WHO says Africa to see 1st vaccine doses from COVAX in March

Some 600 million doses are anticipated to come from COVAX. Doses anticipated to be allotted to international locations primarily based on inhabitants measurement and the severity of the outbreak, with well being employees thought of highest precedence after hundreds have been contaminated. The African continent is now recording about 30,000 new virus instances per day general in contrast to 18,000 through the first surge months in the past.

“Unfortunately, our deaths are increasing very rapidly,” Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong stated in a separate briefing.

He stated confirmed deaths from COVID-19 have jumped 21% over the previous week in Africa, with greater than 5,400 reported. The continent has greater than 3.1 million confirmed virus instances, together with greater than 75,000 deaths, as a second wave of infections is “hitting very, very hard.”

The case fatality charge in Africa is now 2.4%, above the worldwide charge of two.2%. Some 20 African international locations have case fatality charges above the worldwide common, together with Sudan at 6%, Egypt at 5.5%, Mali at 3.9%, Congo at 3.1% and South Africa at 2.8%.

South Africa is likely one of the world’s hardest-hit international locations as a extremely infectious variant of the virus now dominates the variety of new instances and hospitals battle. The nation has greater than 1.2 million instances together with 35,000 deaths.

Genomic sequencing has now discovered that new variant in three different international locations: Botswana, Gambia and Zambia, the WHO Africa chief stated.

“The importance of a robust genomics surveillance system cannot be overemphasized,” she added.

The Africa CDC director stated “the sheer increase in the number of cases means we run into short supplies of oxygen,” and he’s assembly with the World Health Organization and different companions on Friday on how to enhance the provision to Africa, the place medical oxygen shouldn’t be extensively obtainable.

Nkengasong careworn the significance of getting COVID-19 vaccines to Africa: “We have to do it quick. Economies are down. People are dying.”

Since vaccine doses from the COVAX effort are anticipated to cowl simply 20% of the inhabitants in Africa, officers have pushed on a number of fronts to safe many extra doses to meet the purpose of vaccinating the 60% wanted to obtain herd immunity in opposition to the virus.

The vaccinations “will require a very massive historic campaign” of a sort that the continent has by no means seen, Nkengasong stated.

Already there are considerations about how African international locations can roll out vaccines that require super-cold storage given the continent has among the world’s worst infrastructure.

Nkengasong stated African governments are being suggested to acquire deep freezers to begin the vaccinations at hospitals in their main cities, then to “engage the community, push them, drag them to where vaccination points are.”

Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

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