The whole world has been living under the yoke of a new “form of influenza” for almost 3 years. Hand washing, nose plugs and social distancing, called barrier measures, have long been the only protection available. While medicine seemed to give in to this new virus, the hope of a return to life appeared in the form of vaccination. These new expedients, already controversial, are facing an even greater reluctance in Africa. What is vaccination look like in Africa? Read and discover these 5 things about vaccination in Africa.
1- A late start
On December 08, 2020, Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to be vaccinated against Covid-19. On December 14, 2020, nurse Sandra Lindsay became the first person to be vaccinated on American soil. It is only the following year that there will be the first injection in Africa. Indeed, on January 26, 2021, the Seychelles became the first African state to be vaccinated against Covid-19. A few hours later, Mauritius will follow in the footsteps of its neighbor. While the “small countries” are leading the way, the big powers will only start vaccination at the end of the first quarter of 2021. Indeed, large nations such as Nigeria will only make its first injection on March 5.
Despite a slow start, the vaccination strategy was almost the same as on other continents.
2- Vaccine strategy
Having received the first doses of vaccine, African states quickly asked themselves the question “Who to vaccinate first? In response, African leaders decided to follow the example of other continents with a slight modification. As observed in other countries, the first injection was reserved either for a person at risk or for medical personnel. In Africa, it was different. The very first doses were for political figures. In many African countries, the vaccination was given by the political leaders. It is either by the president himself, as in the Seychelles, in the person of the head of state Wavel RAMKALAWAN, or the head of government, as was the case in Togo with Victoire Tomegah DOGBEY. After the opening of the ball by the politicians, followed the health care personnel, the people at risk and then the lot of the desirous.
The vaccination campaign on the African continent is a means that according to the WHO would eradicate this virus. The question that arises is “do African states have the means to achieve collective immunity?” To achieve this, the UN with the help of other institutions may have found the solution.
An acronym for Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, Covax is an express initiative launched in April 2020. It aims to ensure equitable access to vaccines against cardiovid in countries around the world. Covax is initiated by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) under the watchful eye of the WHO. In fulfilling its mission, Covax has dedicated itself to Africa. To this end, the first covax beneficiary nations will be Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire on March 1, 2021. Other countries are benefiting from the contribution of Covax for vaccination campaigns. To achieve its objectives, covax actions are mainly financed by bodies such as the UN and the EU. Some individuals, such as Bill and Melinda Gates’Foundation and Greta Thunberg’Foundation, also contribute.
With the support of international organizations, Africa seems to have all the cards in hand for a successful vaccination campaign. Let’s talk about the choice of vaccine. Which vaccine is used on the continent?
4- The vaccines used
Vaccination in Africa is done with vaccines that seem to be the most adapted to the continent. Indeed, the vaccines used in Africa are those that do not require enormous means to be preserved. Since it is a hot continent and many countries do not have the means to keep vaccines at very low temperatures for a long time.
Their choice is Sinovac, Astra zeneca, Sputnik V, Pfizer, Johnson-Johnson. In addition to the problem of conservation, the financial aspect must be taken into account. Indeed, these vaccines are less coveted and less expensive.
The cost of the vaccine combined with the fear of throwing away expired vials sometimes forces governments to accelerate vaccination. This forced invitation to vaccinate raises doubts about the freedom of vaccination.
5-Mandatory or not?
At this time, it is true that no decree in any African country makes vaccination mandatory. But it is difficult to believe that it is not. Indeed, in some countries, access to certain places is subject to the presentation of a vaccination passport. In June 2021, the Senegalese head of state Macky Sall declared that access to places of entertainment, maquis and others is subject to the presentation of a vaccination passport. In December
2021, Togolese authorities will go further. They will make it clear that only vaccinated people are eligible for access to places of worship. This is the leitmotif on virtually the entire rest of the continent. Governments are playing word games with citizens. But this strategy is not clearly showing positive results. In December 2021, Africa will have only 4% of its people vaccinated. Very few. It must be said that the pressure of governments does not accelerate the pace of vaccination.
The cases of thrombosis and health complications that have been observed in some vaccinated people make many Africans reluctant to be vaccinated.
The Covid-19 virus is highly mutable. Until the world achieves herd immunity, we are not safe from a nasty surprise. At a time when variants are appearing, including the omicron discovered in South Africa, a country that has vaccinated only 6% of its population, do you think that vaccination should be made mandatory?