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COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Africa has gathered steam – WHO

The deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa has accelerated amid the quest to contain the virus and reopen the continent’s economy, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said this in a statement issued in Nairobi on Thursday.

Moeti said the continent had stepped up procurement of vaccines to inoculate groups at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.

“The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines is an incredible, much-awaited leap forward for African countries that have spent months preparing while wealthy countries race ahead with vaccination,” Moeti said.

Ghana, on Wednesday, became the first African country to receive 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine procured through the COVAX facility.

Moeti said Cote d’Ivoire would receive its vaccine allocation Friday, while 24 African countries were expected to receive their doses procured under COVAX in a fortnight.

“COVAX is a global expression of equity, and it cannot be stressed enough that to end the pandemic, all countries must move forward with vaccination together.

“No country is safe until all countries are safe,” said Moeti.

She said the majority of African countries were participating in COVAX facilities and had put robust systems in place to facilitate mass inoculation against the COVID-19 disease.

“The COVID-19 vaccines will help save lives and boost economic recovery. There is a need for more investments in vaccine equity, including sharing of surplus by wealthy nations,” said Moeti.

According to Moeti, 600 million doses procured under the COVAX facility will be delivered in Africa in 2021 to help inoculate vulnerable groups like frontline health care workers, the elderly and the terminally ill.

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