Africa’s top public health official says vaccinations against COVID-19 on the continent might not start until the second quarter of next year
The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, told reporters that “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available” in the past.
The Africa CDC has been discussing vaccine options with Russia, China and others as it seeks not to be left behind in the race to obtain doses. Nkengasong said the continent will need about 1.5 billion doses, assuming two per person, to reach the 60% coverage needed for herd immunity.
“The worst thing we want for the continent is for COVID to become an endemic disease” in Africa, he said.
In one hopeful development, authorities have begun distributing 2.7 million antigen tests throughout the continent, which Nkengasong said is “perhaps a game-changer” that allows for faster and easier testing.
So far, about 21 million tests have been conducted across Africa’s 54 countries.