At least 23 countries in Africa have reported a downward trend of new Covid-19 cases in the last one week by 20 per cent.
But World Health Organization Programme Area Manager, Immunization and vaccine development Dr. Richard Mihigo has raised caution on the interpretation.
“This decline needs to be interpreted with great caution, as other countries in other regions have witnessed steep declines only to experience an uptick later on,” said Mihigo at a virtual briefing to discuss how Africans will access Covid-19 vaccines, once they become available.
Mihigo said that the vaccines have always been prioritised for other regions leaving Africa at the back of the queue, however this time things have to be different.
“COVAX is a global initiative that aims to mitigate this. Once there is a vaccine that is licensed and approved, COVAX will work to secure at least 220 million doses of the vaccine for the continent,” he said.
The doses of vaccine will cover 20 per cent of the African population while prioritising healthcare workers then expanding to cover vulnerable groups like the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
COVAX which is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO is aimed to ensure that there is equitable distribution of the vaccine worldwide by end of 2021.
High income countries will pay to buy the vaccines, ultimately subsidising the cost that would have been paid by low income funded countries. This model of financing will give manufacturers guarantee for vaccine candidates before they are licensed and also ensure that other countries can access doses.
According to the WHO representative, all 54 countries on the continent have expressed interest in the initiative while eight higher and middle-income countries have agreed to self-finance vaccine doses through the COVAX Facility.
“The 46 other countries in Africa are eligible to receive financial support through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment. Donations from donor countries, the private sector, and philanthropists will help fund vaccine procurement for these lower-middle and low income countries,” he further added.
More than one million people have recovered from the virus in Africa with 1.25 million registered cumulative cases and over 30,000 deaths reported.