WHO seeks to secure initial 230 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for Africa

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The World Health Organization wants to secure an initial 230 million doses of any COVID-19 vaccine for Africa to help the continent stay at par with other regions in the fight against the virus.

Officials said on Thursday the initial batch of vaccine doses will be directed towards health workers leading the continent’s fight against COVID-19.

“This … (initial batch) will cover 20 percent of the African population, initially prioritizing those who are at the frontline, health care workers, then expanding to cover vulnerable groups,” Reuters quotes Richard Mihigo, the programme area manager for WHO Africa.

The development comes as the number of COVID-19 infections on the continent stood at 1,267,656 by Thursday afternoon, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Figures from the agency also showed that the continent has reported 30,294 fatalities as some countries continues to see a steady increase in infections.

WHO officials also called for testing of potential vaccines in Africa in order to obtain the necessary data on their safety before being rolled out.

“Testing vaccines on the continent ensures that sufficient data is generated on the safety and efficacy of the mot promising vaccine candidates for the African population so they can be confidently rolled out in Africa,” Reuters quotes Richard Hatchett, the chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).