Geographical spread of highly infectious variants first recorded in UK and South Africa are underestimated, agency says.
Millions of coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the African Union (AU) will be allocated according to countries’ populations, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa, who is the current AU chairman, said on Wednesday that vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca would be available this year, but he did not specify how much each African country would get.
No African countries have begun large-scale vaccination campaigns and the AU’s 270 million shots, if administered so there are two per person, would still only cover around 10 percent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.
“The Africa CDC has already worked out the allocations that each country will be able to get, and the allocation is going to be worked on the size of your population,” Ramaphosa said, referring to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
On Thursday, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong cautioned that vaccines would not be a magic bullet for Africa as it would take time for them to be rolled out and as a second wave of infections had not yet peaked.
The continent’s confirmed cases have passed 3.1 million, with more than 76,000 deaths.
Speaking to South African news website Eyewitness News and Radio 702, Ramaphosa also suggested that the AU would source vaccines from China.
“China will also be part of that, although they will join later,” he said.
South Africa itself plans to access doses via three sources: the AU arrangement, the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX, co-led by the World Health Organization), and direct deals with manufacturers.
South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths in Africa, at roughly 1.3 million and 36,000.