In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong spoke about the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Africa, saying the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will still “pay a major role” in the continent’s fight against coronavirus despite questions over how it affects regional variants.
“What we’ve done in the spirit of providing guidance to the countries is to say that if the variant in South Africa is predominant, then the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be applied – it should be used elsewhere on the continent,” Nkengasong said. “But we remain confident that the AstraZeneca vaccine will play a major role in our vaccination program across the continent.”
This comes after South Africa said it plans to share one million unwanted doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries in the African Union after preliminary trial data suggested the vaccine provided only “minimal protection” against mild and moderate Covid-19 from the variant first identified in South Africa.
Nkengasong also warned that “vaccine passport” schemes imposed by Western countries could impact travel to Africa and exacerbate inequality.
“One of our greatest concern is that the vaccine situation will continue to exacerbate the inequality gap that exists in the world, especially the north-south divide,” Nkengasong said.
“And my greatest fear also is that once the U.S. and Europe gets their vaccines they’ll begin to impose the need to have a vaccine certificate to travel, and that will become extremely complicated for Africans to travel across the world. That is why we should ask a collective of the continent, and of course in partnership with the developed world, to make sure that Africa has timely access to vaccines to make its vaccination targets.”