Africa Urged to Accept Vaccines If Virus War Is to Be Won

28 November 2020

Hesitancy in accepting available vaccines by some countries in Africa is likely to erode the gains made in public health, an expert has said.

Only two countries on the continent - Kenya and South Africa - are taking part in Covid-19 vaccine trials.

Prof Omu Anzala from the Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Nairobi has urged countries in East Africa to form a consortium, buy the vaccines and test them on their populations.

"When countries bring resources together, they are likely to bargain for more doses at a cheaper cost," Prof Anzala said.

"Have local decision interventions and ensure research and discoveries are done so that we can know if the vaccine is working. Let us see if the strains will concur with the vaccines that are being developed."

He asked countries in Africa to set aside more money for vaccines, adding that Europe has already ordered billions of doses.

Prof Anzala said unless Africa develops vaccines for its population, the continent will have to allocate more funding for a standard cold chain storage.

"Apart from the challenge of funding, there is also a need for Africa to prioritise the cold chain," he said

Prof Anzala said that there is need for dialogue with health care professionals, communities, opinion leaders and policy makers on the dangers of vaccine hesitancy.

Health care workers in Uganda have refused to take part in a vaccine trial.

The government for its part insists on not rushing to buy foreign vaccines.

"I understand the urge to secure the vaccine. However, my responsibility is not just to enable access, but to ensure we make the best choices," Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said.

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