Africa’s vaccine rollout

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14. 3. 2021 - 13.00


Africa’s vaccine rollout

Vaccination programmes are underway across Africa, bolstered by the international Covax initiative to help poorer countries 
access supplies. More than half of the countries on the continent have now received vaccines, and a growing number have 
started administering them. But African countries are still significantly behind other parts of the world.

How are African countries getting vaccines?
Deliveries of vaccine supplies under the Covax programme started in February, and most countries in Africa have signed up.
The programme - backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other multilateral bodies - aims to distribute an initial 
half million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine worldwide, with the aim of supplying two billion vaccines by the end of 

How does the Covax scheme work?

Of this total, the WHO says 600 million doses will be for Africa, enough to vaccinate at least 20% of the population.
However, there are a handful of African countries not taking part in Covax for various reasons.
Tanzania and Madagascar have said they have no plans to acquire vaccines, and Burundi says that at the moment, they don't 
need vaccines. And some nations have sourced vaccines from outside the Covax scheme. They've done so through direct purchases 
from the manufacturers, or as donations from countries such as China, Russia, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Globally, there've been calls for developed nations to ensure that poorer countries are not left behind in the push to 
vaccinate against Covid-19.
France's President Emmanuel Macron recently proposed that rich countries in Europe and the US share their extra vaccines 
with Africa. He says he wants these doses be made available quickly for African countries.

The global humanitarian body, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), estimates that all the extra supplies bought by the 
US, UK and the EU could vaccinate everyone aged 16 and over in the 20 countries most at risk of humanitarian disaster.
Out of these countries, 13 are in Africa. As a comparison, by the end of February, the UK had given out more than 31 doses 
per 100 people, the US more than 22, Asia just over two and Africa less than 0.3, according to statistics compiled by Our 
World in Data. African nations face not just supply problems, but also issues relating to storage and logistics when it comes 
to administering the vaccines.

Is it enough?

John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says the vaccines provided "will not 
get the pandemic out" of the continent. He says African countries will eventually need to vaccinate at least 60% of their 
populations, with his target for this year being 35%. There's also an African Union plan to pool supply arrangements on 
behalf of all 55 countries in the continent. Africa's leading mobile network provider, MTN, has made a donation of $25m 
(£17.8m) to this plan to secure about seven million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for the continent's health workers.

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