Vaccination against Covid-19 stagnates

Three million doses are administered weekly, a total of 53 million since the start of the vaccination campaigns and only 8 million Africans have received the two doses required for complete immunity.

Several factors explain these poor results. First, Africa received very few vaccines; then people remain suspicious and the fact that the European Union does not recognize the Covishield vaccine, the AstraZeneca vaccine made in India and used in Africa, has not helped.

On March 2, for example, the DRC will receive 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca. Due to the uncertainty surrounding this vaccine, the country will not launch its campaign until 19 April. “Because these were outdated kits, we relocated 1.3 million doses in six neighboring countries and we still had the difference. We have removed this vaccine because it is not used and is in the process of being destroyed. So far, we are deficient, explains Dr. Jean Jacques Mbungani Mbanda, Minister of Health.

In June, Europe reopens its borders and Africa discovers that the Covishield vaccine is not recognized by the European Union. Still, it’s the same as the AstraZeneca. “It is exactly the same product, the only difference being that the European Medicines Agency only examines products to be used in the European Union,” comments Richard Mihigo, Chief Vaccination Officer at WHO Africa.

Finally, the European Commission declares that vaccines that have been approved for emergency use by the WHO, such as Covishield, can be approved by the member states. “There is work to be done, including African governments, to advocate with ambassadors from European countries,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa.

Several EU countries now recognize Covishield, including Germany, Spain and Belgium.


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