African Health Bodies Call For COVID-19 Vaccine Donations With Longer Shelf Life

Major African health bodies on Thursday appealed for a donation of COVID-19 vaccines with a shelf life of three to six months so that countries receiving the vaccines could plan their proper rollout and avoid a situation where doses expire, reported Africa News.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said around 2.8 million doses of vaccine had expired on the continent so far which is roughly 0.5 percent of the 572 million doses delivered to date. He said 10.4 percent of Africans were fully vaccinated, a percentage lagging far behind most other parts of the world.

“In terms of the 0.5 percent, let me be very clear, any dose of vaccine that expired pains me because that is a life that can be potentially saved,” Nkengasong told a news briefing on Thursday.

He said the expired doses were mostly among those donated by individual countries or via the global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX, and that they had arrived with very short notice.

The Africa CDC director said the Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses acquired by African countries via a scheme organized by the 55-member African Union and delivered with a longer shelf life had not expired.

In a separate briefing, Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa, reiterated Nkengasong’s call for vaccines with longer shelf life.

“Many countries indicate that they would like vaccines to be donated with at least three months of shelf life, if not more,” Moeti said.

The call has been made after several African countries were forced to destroy expired vaccine doses. Last week, Uganda announced plans to destroy 400,000 doses of covid 19 vaccines which were meant to be utilized in a mass vaccination exercise as they had expired.

Last year in December, Nigeria also destroyed over one million expired doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

Caroline Finnegan

A professionnal journalist for the past ten years, I cover global news and economic affairs for The Chief Observer.

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