Africa: Dispatch of Millions of Covid-19 Vaccines to Africa Expected to Start in February – WHO


The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday the joint UN-led COVAX initiative aims to start shipping about 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa in February, in what will be the continent’s largest ever mass vaccination campaign.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, highlighted that the deployment is a “critical first step” to ensure countries access to vaccines.

“Africa has watched other regions start COVID-19 vaccination campaigns from the side-lines for too long. This planned roll-out is a critical first step to ensuring the continent gets equitable access to vaccines”, Dr. Moeti said.

The roll-out of the AstraZeneca/Oxford AZD1222 vaccine is subject to the vaccine being listed for emergency use by WHO, which is currently reviewing the vaccine and the outcome is expected soon, according to the agency.

Amid surging demand for COVID-19 vaccines, the final shipments will be based on production capacities of vaccine manufacturers and the readiness of countries, WHO added, noting that recipient countries are required to submit finalized national deployment and vaccination plans to receive vaccines from the COVAX facility.

The initial 90 million doses will support countries inoculate 3 per cent of the African population most in need of protection, including health workers and other vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021.

As production capacity increases and more vaccines become available the aim is to vaccinate at least 20 per cent of Africans by providing up to 600 million doses by the end of 2021.