The African continent has been actively working to secure vaccines against the novel coronavirus amid a surge in case numbers, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said Thursday.
At a press briefing, John Nkengasong said that starting in April “we will begin to see an active vaccination program in the continent.”
He also commended African Union chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa for being on the forefront advocating for the vaccine.
Nkengasong said it was important for African Union member states to prepare now to deliver vaccines in an efficient and timely manner.
He urged against getting into a “moral crisis” on where the vaccines are stocked in the developed world while Africa struggles to obtain the shots.
African countries have deployed various innovative means to prepare for the vaccines, he added. “We remain hopeful that international cooperation will prevail. The number-one lesson I have with regards to the virus is that cooperation and partnership works.”
There are over 2.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases on the African continent, with more than 2.27 million recoveries and over 64,700 deaths, according to the latest figures from Africa CDC.
“The same public health measures we have been applying are still relevant in targeting the variant,” he said, referring to a recent mutated strain of the coronavirus that was first reported in the UK. Nkengasong added that Africa CDC had uploaded an online vaccine strategy document.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Africa office called on African countries to boost surveillance as new coronavirus variants emerge.
WHO Africa said African countries should also boost analysis through the African genome sequencing laboratory network to detect any new mutations and strengthen efforts to curb the pandemic.
In September, the WHO and the Africa CDC launched a network of laboratories to reinforce genome sequencing of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Africa.