THE World Health Organisation, WHO disclosed that Africa needs at least $9 billion to procure and distribute 1.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Richard Mihigo, WHO Immunisation and Vaccines Development Programme Coordinator, revealed this at the WHO Africa online press briefing on readiness for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Africa on Thursday.
In a Twitter post, Mihigo emphasised that there is a need to ensure an equitable and timely distribution of the vaccines.
"As we have seen a rollout in the global north, the equitable distribution of vaccine in low income country is a real problem. Some countries have pre ordered doses of vaccines much greater than needed".
— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) December 10, 2020
“We will definitely need to vaccinate between 60 to 70 per cent of the African population.
“So, if you consider that we have about 1.2 to 1.3 billion people on the African continent and you take 60 per cent of that with the assumption that you will need maybe two doses per population, we are talking about close to 1.3 to 1.4 billion vaccine doses that will be needed to immunise 60 per cent of the people in Africa to reach a herd immunity,” he said.
He explained that the cost of the vaccines was not problematic compared to the cost of delivering them and ensuring they get to the right locations.
“So if we compute that number with the preliminary information that we are getting with these vaccine manufacturers because it is not only the cost of the vaccines. There are also additional costs that are needed to deliver those vaccines,” he said.
According to an Oxfam report, Africa is not likely to recieve enough vaccines from COVAX to reach the goal of vaccinating 60 per cent of the population to achieve herd immunity because rich countries have purchased surplus of the vaccinces for their countries.
COVAX facility is a Gavi-coordinated pooled procurement mechanism for developing COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring fair and equitable access to make 20 per cent of the vaccines available.
The report states that Canada bought enough doses to vaccinate its population five times over, while South Korea, has bought sufficient vaccine for 88 percent of its population of more than 50 million people.
Mihigo added that there were no guarantees that there would be enough supplies for Africa before the end of 2021.
“We know very well that the preliminary rough estimation that is being done, we may need up to $9 billion.
“We are not sure that we are going to get enough supply to immunise everybody by the end of 2021. This may spill over to the year after but also to mobilise such an amount of money, I think it will be an additional challenge,” he said.
He also revealed that there are ongoing discussions with the African Union to work with other multilateral or development banks like the World Bank, Afrexim Bank to mobilise resources.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.