Africa needs at least 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the next six weeks, says World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
She stated this during a virtual press conference facilitated by APO Group on Thursday.
According to her, in addition to the 20 million doses needed, another 200 million doses of any WHO Emergency Use Listed COVID-19 vaccine would be needed so that the continent can vaccinate 10 per cent of its population by September 2021.
To date, 28 million COVID-19 doses, of different vaccines have been administered in Africa, which represents less than two doses administered per 100 people in Africa.
Globally, 1.5 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered.
She said, “As supplies dry up, dose-sharing is an urgent, critical and short-term solution to ensuring that Africans at the greatest risk of COVID-19 get the much-needed protection.
“Africa needs vaccines now. Any pause in our vaccination campaigns will lead to lost lives and lost hope.
“It’s too soon to tell if Africa is on the cusp of a third wave. However, we know that cases are rising, and the clock is ticking so we urgently appeal to countries that have vaccinated their high-risk groups to speed up the dose-sharing to fully protect the most vulnerable people.”
A single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine gives around 70 per cent protection for at least 12 weeks.
While data on the protection from one dose after 12 weeks is limited, it has been discovered that COVID-19 antibodies have been found in the body up to 6 months after one dose. The full course provided with a 12-week interval gives 81 per cent protection for an extended period.
The European Union and its Member States have pledged over 100 million doses for low-income countries by the end of 2021 while the United States of America has pledged to share 80 million doses with lower-income countries.