COVID-19 vaccination drive in Africa hampered by shortages, financing issues: WHO

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Representative image
Representative image

Brazzaville [Congo], May 21 (ANI): Africa's rollout of coronavirus vaccines is being undermined by supply shortages and financial difficulties, the African regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

"While limited supplies of doses are hampering the large-scale rollout of vaccines, funding for operational costs is also a critical barrier. Eight countries have used up all their vaccines, but over 20 countries have administered less than 50 per cent of their doses," the office said in a statement, listing other delaying factors, such as a shortage of vaccinators, weak communications, and sub-optimal training.

According to the WHO's regional office, the vaccine shipments to the continent, through the COVAX program has been stopped. Africa is said to have received only 18.2 million doses, about a quarter of the 66 million that it expected.

The statement further said that while COVAX, the Gavi vaccine alliance, the World Bank and other donors are ready to finance vaccination in Africa, decent financial planning is important for unlocking these funds.

"Only a handful of African countries have made good use of the COVID-19 Vaccine Introduction and Deployment Costing Tool produced by the COVAX Facility, which aims to help countries determine their funding needs. The tool is the first step to a well-structured budget, offering a quick yet comprehensive estimate of incremental costs," the statement read.

Till date, 49 African countries have received a total of over 40.7 million doses from various sources. A total of 48 countries have administered more than 24.6 million doses, but only 5.6 million people have been fully vaccinated to date.

COVAX is providing its share of vaccines for free to lower-income countries, but there are other significant costs. It is estimated that 60 per cent of every dollar spent on delivering vaccines is needed for operations, the statement said.

The World Bank calculates that on top of the money needed to buy enough vaccines to ensure adequate protection from COVID-19, another 3 billion is required to deliver the vaccines into the arms of people. (ANI)

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