Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The World Health Organisation says Africa will need at least $9bn to procure and distribute 1.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Immunisation and Vaccines Development Programme Coordinator, WHO, Dr. Richard Mihigo, said this on Thursday at the WHO Africa online press briefing on ramping up preparedness for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Africa.
Mihigo stated that there was a need to ensure an equitable and timely distribution of the vaccines.
Responding to a question from The PUNCH, Mihigo said, “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.”
Speaking further, Mihigo explained that it is not just about the cost of the vaccines but the cost of delivering them and ensuring that they get to the right locations.
He added that there were no guarantees that there would be enough supplies before the end of 2021.
The WHO official stated, “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.
“We know very well that the preliminary rough estimation that is being done, we may need up to $9bn. So, this is a lot of money, a lot of funding that will be needed. First of all, 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.”
Mihigo said the COVAX Facility, which is a Gavi-coordinated pooled procurement mechanism for developing COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring fair and equitable access, would make 20 per cent of the vaccines available.
He revealed that there are discussions ongoing with the African Union to work with other multilateral or development banks like the World Bank, Afrexim Bank to mobilise resources.
“Depending on how much vaccines we need, starting by the COVAX facility alone, I think there is an ambition to reach at least 20 per cent but as I said before there are a lot of discussions going on if we really need to reach a herd immunity that will help people to go back to some sort of normal life,” the official said.
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