The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called on countries that have surplus doses of COVID-19 to redistribute them to the continent in efforts to win the battle against the pandemic.
Speaking at the weekly virtual news briefing on Thursday, John Nkengasong, the director of Africa CDC, said the continent may not win the battle against COVID-19 that has so far infected over 4.7 million and killed almost 130,000 people across Africa, if the vaccination process is delayed.
"With the current rate of immunization, we are lagging behind in winning the battle against COVID-19. That's why I appeal to the friends of Africa, our partners and the world, to consider this as a collective security issue that needs to be addressed from all corners of the world but not in some parts of the world," he said.
Nkengasong urged the countries that have pledged to redistribute some doses of COVID-19 to do so urgently and in a coordinated manner so that the continent can move collectively to achieve the target of vaccinating at least 60 percent of its population by the end of 2022.
In parallel to sourcing for COVID-19 vaccines from overseas, Nkengasong said Africa should start local vaccine manufacturing, calling it a long-term solution.
He said locally manufactured vaccines will greatly help, noting that for the first time in history, the continent is trying to vaccinate millions of people in a very short time.
Secondly, the duration of immunity of vaccines being dwelt with is not known. "We don't know whether those who have been vaccinated will require a booster immunization. And if that is the case, then it means that vaccination will continue to occur on almost routine or yearly basis to maintain the level of immunity," Nkengasong said.
"We therefore cannot continue to rely entirely on vaccines from outside the continent. We need to rely on our own regional capabilities and capacity."
As of May 24, AU member states had acquired a total of over 43 million vaccine doses, with approximately 28 million doses having been administered.
This figure corresponds to a coverage rate of 1.6 percent at the continental level, with 0.46 percent of the population having received a full vaccine regimen.