The Covid 19 vaccine race in West Africa

February 21, 2021 | by: David Kodjani

To reach its herd immunity goal, Africa needs around 1.5 billion doses to immunize 60% of its population.

The first case of Covid was declared in the West Africa region on February 28, 2020. At the end of 2020, vaccine trials against Covid were underway in South Africa, Egypt and Morocco, and are being prepared in a few countries additional. The international COVAX initiative organizes access to vaccine and the WHO Vaccine Task Force supports countries to prepare their strategic plans to immunize up to 20% of their population by 2021, starting with groups priority.

Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Africa has not remained on the sidelines of the race for vaccines against Covid-19. Even if the time is not yet for vaccination, several African countries have already started to experiment with candidate vaccines for a mass immunization campaign, like Guinea. Pending the start of vaccination and to block the road to Covid-19, African countries are getting organized. To finance the acquisition of doses, Kampala is counting on the Covax system, piloted by the international alliance GAVI. Created by the World Health Organization (WHO), this mechanism aims to immunize 20% of the most vulnerable people in 92 low-income countries.

Two billion doses are expected, but they are slow in coming. While waiting for the delivery, scheduled for next March, some states do not hesitate to negotiate directly with the main manufacturers to obtain vaccine doses more quickly, sparking a war of influence between the world powers. Guinea recently entered the race by obtaining 60 doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik 5.

It is a race but before reaching the finish line and acquiring the vaccine, there is a validation process by the health agencies of the country in question and the World Health Organization (WHO). "The major criterion undoubtedly remains the harmlessness and especially the effectiveness of the product so we first look to see if the product is harmless", explains Doctor Richard Mihigo, responsible for emergencies and vaccines at the WHO Africa office in Brazzaville. . The goal of setting up this process is to have a vaccine that protects and does not create other problems.

The vaccine recommended by WHO is Pfizer / BioNTech, already used by several countries around the world.

Remember that to achieve its collective immunity objective, Africa needs around 1.5 billion doses in order to vaccinate 60% of its population. Faced with this thorny problem, French President Emmanuel Macron recently proposed that Europe and the United States deliver "as quickly as possible" 13 million doses of vaccines to Africa. This, so that the continent can vaccinate its 6.5 million caregivers.

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