The director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the African Union (Africa CDC) this Thursday welcomed the donations of vaccines against covid-19 to the continent, but warned that “countries (donors) should be aware of the dates of shelf life”.
If the vaccines arrive with a very short expiry date it will be very difficult to absorb them and (…) we will find ourselves in a very confused scenario where the narrative can be easily misinterpreted” that vaccines were not used, said John Nkengasong, at a virtual press conference.
In this regard, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, stressed at the same press conference that “some of the donations could have a very short time” before expiring, which would make it very difficult for them to use.
According to Nkengasong, donors should aim for a shelf life of three to four months to ensure effective distribution of the drugs in the African nations that receive them.
Although vaccination in Africa is still far behind in relation to the rest of the world – only 1.6% of Africans have received the full vaccination schedule – the head of Africa CDC confirmed that the first doses purchased by the African Union (AU) will reach the continent in the next days.
The agency signed an agreement last March with Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals, to reserve 220 million single-dose vaccines – with the option to add another 180 million in 2022 – of which it will receive a first batch of eight million doses over the next few days and larger batches during the months of August, September and October.
I can’t believe we’re talking about delivering these vaccines, when earlier this year we were still discussing the possibility of closing a contract.”said Nkengasong, with evident satisfaction.
However, the main source of supply of vaccines to the African continent remains the Covax mechanism – driven by the WHO to ensure global and equitable access – which resumed shipments this month after being blocked in late March, when the India has suspended exports to deal with a deadly new wave of the virus.
But the continent is at more than 700 million doses to cover 30% of its population by the end of 2021, Moeti warned.
COVAX signed mid-month agreements with Chinese manufacturers Sinopharm and Sinovac to distribute 110 million antiviral vaccines worldwide, of which 32.5 million will go to Africa.
Africa counts 6,587,734 infected with the new coronavirus, recording 167,183 deaths associated with covid-19.
The first covid-19 case in Africa emerged in Egypt on February 14, 2020, and Nigeria was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to report cases of infection, on February 28th.
The covid-19 pandemic has caused at least 4,190,383 deaths worldwide, among more than 195.8 million cases of infection by the new coronavirus, according to the most recent report by the Agence France-Presse.
The respiratory disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China, and currently with variants identified in countries such as the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Brazil and Peru.