19 August 2021
Brazzaville – With 620 million COVID-19 vaccine doses set to arrive in Africa through COVAX alone by the end of 2021, African countries are set to roll out a range of different vaccines, each with their own unique storage, transport and administration requirements.
“It’s a huge and complex task, and it is crucial that we plan well, ensure resources are in place and keep documenting, learning and sharing lessons as we go. Countries must also share all relevant data with WHO, as we use it to allocate vaccines, track progress and tailor our support,” says Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, New Vaccines Introduction Officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa.
Many existing preparatory steps remain relevant for the next phase of Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, but a number of new tools, resources and guidelines are now available.
Intra-action reviews help countries find and fix key challenges quickly and keep learning and improving over time. The reviews can identify practical areas for immediate remedy, such as introducing vaccines to different priority groups, rolling-out multiple vaccines, and in wider COVID-19 response reviews, putting the right public health and social measures in place.
With WHO assistance, 11 African countries have conducted COVID-19 intra-action reviews. Seven are in the planning phase and nine more have expressed interest in conducting them.
The first phase of Africa’s COVID-19 rollout saw a number of African countries unable to unlock funds for key expenses, including hiring vaccinators, cold-chain storage and logistics and transport and administration, by leaving them out of their costing plans.
The WHO COVID-19 Vaccine Introduction and Deployment Costing Tool (CVIC) is key to helping countries determine their funding needs. Once completed, African countries can request more resources through the WHO COVID-19 Partners Platform.
A range of financing opportunities are available. Gavi, the vaccine alliance, recently approved a further US$ 775 million to deliver vaccines to low-income countries and the World Bank will provide over US$4 billion to purchase and deploy vaccines to 25 African countries.
WHO documents and shares key lessons from Africa’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. This includes building a database of valuable information and creating case studies on positive experiences and how countries are overcoming key risks and challenges. So far, 10 African countries have shared experiences and valuable lessons through regional webinars.
WHO assists African countries in reaching communities to drive up demand for vaccines through a network of risk communication and community engagement professionals.
The WHO-hosted Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA) shares safe, proven facts on health and works to counter misinformation online. So far, AIRA has aided around 20 African countries in building up their infodemic management capacities.
Viral Facts Africa, AIRA’s content production arm, has produced over 188 items of online content that have been viewed over 100 million times in 34 countries. To access all Viral Facts content please visit this link and click “Request Access”.