COVAX last week notified countries in Africa of the estimated dose allocation for the first phase of COVID-19 vaccine delivery. The global initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) aims to start shipping nearly 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the continent in February, in what will be Africa’s largest ever mass vaccination campaign.
The roll-out of the AstraZeneca/Oxford AZD1222 vaccine is subject to the vaccine being listed for emergency use by WHO. The organization is currently reviewing the vaccine and the outcome of the review is expected soon.
“Africa has watched other regions start COVID-19 vaccination campaigns from the side-lines for too long. This planned roll-out is a critical first step to ensuring the continent gets equitable access to vaccines,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “We know no one will be safe until everyone is safe.”
COVAX notified countries through letters which were sent on January 30 2021. Amid surging demand for COVID-19 vaccines, the final shipments will be based on production capacities of vaccine manufacturers and the readiness of countries. Recipient countries are required to submit finalized national deployment and vaccination plans to receive vaccines from the COVAX facility.
In addition, around 320 000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries -Cabo Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia. This vaccine has received WHO Emergency Use Listing but requires countries to be able to store and distribute doses at minus 70 degrees Celsius. To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. Thirteen African countries submitted proposals and were evaluated by a multi-agency committee based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends, and the capacity to handle the ultra-cold chain needs of the vaccine.
This, in brief, is what is happening around. This is the kind of information that the government is supposed to be disseminating to Basotho. Bat, alas, all we hear are flimsy, wishy-washy reminders a Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in Lesotho in April. Enough of that. Basotho deserve the true truth. They deserve relevant information from the government, information that enables them to make informed decision.
The absence of such information fertilises the soil for shady characters like one unscrupulous, brain-dead Democratic Congress scatterbrain who has failed dismally as a politician, to spew all sorts of verbal diarrhoea against vaccines, while posing as an expert.
The media, too, is to blame here. How does a radio station allocate two hours to a nitwit who could only garner 60 votes in an election, to go on and on posing as a medical expert uttering poppycock on a subject he was never schooled in? These are the kind of charlatans that give the media a bad name.