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World risks 'moral catastrophe' if COVID shots delayed in Africa, its CDC chief says

GlobalDec 31, 2020 12:06
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NAIROBI, Dec 31 (Reuters) - The world risks a "moral
catastrophe" if COVID-19 vaccinations are delayed in Africa
while wealthier regions inoculate their entire populations, the
head of the continent's disease control body said on Thursday.
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
hopes significant vaccination campaigns on the continent will
begin in April, its head, John Nkengasong, told reporters.
"That's a long way to go given that this virus transmits
very quickly," he said, adding that in Africa, "the second wave
is here with a vengeance".
Cases of the new coronavirus increased by nearly 19% since
last week and deaths increased by 26%, according to Africa CDC
data. Africa has recorded 2.7 million coronavirus infections and
64,000 deaths as of Thursday, it says.
South Africa, where a new variant of the virus has been
detected, recorded 82,000 cases in the past week, he said.
"We cannot delay, we need those vaccines and need them now,"
Nkengasong said.
The major blockers to vaccinations beginning in Africa are
global availability of doses and financing, he said.
Wealthy nations have acquired vaccines in excess of what
they need, he said.
"We don't have to get into a moral crisis, where these
things are stocked in the developed world and we in Africa are
struggling to have," Nkengasong said.
The African Union is in talks with the European Union,
Canada, and pharmaceutical companies to secure doses, he said,
to secure vaccines in addition to what Africa has been promised
by the World Health Organization's COVAX programme. COVAX is a
global scheme to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries.
"This would easily become a moral catastrophe if we should
not come together as one to address going forward as early as
possible in 2021 and meet Africa at its point of need."
Approval processes for various vaccines will likely be
fast-tracked through a central African Union process, he said.
A handful of nations on the continent are further along.
Morocco said earlier this month it plans to roll out China's
Sinopharm vaccine within weeks as soon as its Phase 3 trials are
over, while Egypt received its first shipment of Sinopharm
vaccines on Dec.11. L1N2IO22Z L8N2IQ70D
South Africa expects to get the COVAX vaccine by the second
quarter of 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday. The
COVAX alliance said on Dec. 18 its first deliveries were due in
early 2021, without giving a specific date. African governments should learn the lesson that local
manufacturing of vaccines and strong testing capacities are
critical, Nkengasong said, noting that the continent faced the
same scenario of a scramble for vaccines - and Western nations
far ahead - more than a decade ago during the H1N1 swine flu
outbreak.

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South Africa to get firm date on delivery of vaccine by early
January, experts say ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

World risks 'moral catastrophe' if COVID shots delayed in Africa, its CDC chief says
 

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