India AstraZeneca shot delay could be ‘catastrophic’ for Africa: Health official

India’s short-term maintain on main exports of ‘s COVID-19 shot will undermine Africa‘s vaccination plans, and could have a “catastrophic” affect if prolonged, the top of the continent’s illness management physique mentioned on Thursday.

India determined to delay massive exports of the photographs made in its territory by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to ensure it could meet native demand, two sources advised Reuters final week.

The maintain “will definitely impact our ability to continuously vaccinate people,” the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, advised a information convention in Addis Ababa.

The African Union had deliberate to vaccinate 30-35% of the continent’s inhabitants by the top of the yr he mentioned. “If the vaccines are delayed we are unlikely to meet our target,” he added.

That AU goal primarily depends on provides from the worldwide COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, by way of which 64 poorer international locations together with many in Africa are purported to get doses from the SII. COVAX goals to offer sufficient photographs for African international locations to inoculate at the very least 20% of their populations.

“If the delay continues, I hope it’s a delay and not a ban, that would be catastrophic for meeting our vaccinations schedule,” Nkengasong mentioned.

African international locations have reported 4.25 million coronavirus infections and 112,000 associated deaths, although specialists have mentioned the precise numbers could be increased.

The AU has additionally been negotiating with producers to assist member states safe the extra doses they might want to obtain 60% protection.

On Monday, Johnson & Johnson introduced it could provide the AU with as much as 400 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine. Delivery of these doses is because of start within the third quarter of this yr and can proceed by way of 2022.

Those doses are separate from the GAVI/WHO-backed world COVAX facility.

Nkengasong mentioned on Thursday the AU has “pivoted” in the direction of the J&J shot partially on account of the delay within the supply of AstraZeneca photographs, and likewise as a result of it’s a single-dose shot.

The J&J doses will start to reach in June or July, which can ease any scarcity brought on by the delay within the AstraZeneca doses, Nkengasong mentioned. The hole till the arrival of the J&J doses is a priority, he added.

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