AstraZeneca Africa Director, Barbara Nel, has said the limited AstraZeneca vaccine distribution in the Africa region and particularly Ghana, can be attributed to the “devastating COVID-19 second wave that happened in India” leading to a ban on the export of vaccines in that country.
She believes this prevented most African governments from fully and effectively vaccinating their population.
Speaking in an exclusive interview on the Point of View, Barbara Nel described the current COVID-19 vaccine situation in some parts of the African continent as “very disturbing’ as it has reached a “critical point”.
“It is a very disturbing image map and the situation that we have in Africa right now has reached a critical point. I think one of the key things is, in February, March we saw a lot of initial donations coming in, we saw Ghana leading the way, the first recipient of COVAX vaccines, and it was almost a bit of a competition between Ghana and Ivory Coast, who is going to administer the first vaccine, and in the course of this a devastating second wave that we saw in India, one of the things that happened to the export from India, is that was a ban put on that, and that has caused this gap,” she said.
She, however, added that AstraZeneca together with COVAX is working to ensure that about 1.6 billion vaccine doses would be made available later this year through to 2022, to countries yet to vaccinate the majority of their people.
“There has been a significant breakthrough that has happened in the last couple of weeks, … where countries that have excess vaccines are essentially donating… and what we currently know within the COVAX facility is that there is a commitment of around 1.6 billion fully funded doses in 2021 and into 2022” she added.