Africa will need at least $9bn to procure and distribute 1.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
At a virtual press briefing, WHO’s Immunisation and Vaccines Development Programme Coordinator, Dr Richard Mihigo said that the agency was ramping up preparedness for a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Africa and reiterated the need to ensure an equitable and timely distribution of the vaccines.
“We will definitely need to vaccinate between 60% to 70% of the African population. So, if you consider that, we have about 1.2 to 1.3 billion people on the African continent and you take 60% of that with the assumption that you will need maybe two doses per population, we are talking about close to 1.3 to 1.4 billion vaccine doses that will be needed to immunise 60% of the people in Africa to reach a herd immunity”, Mihigo said.
He said that it is not just about the cost of the vaccines but the cost of delivering them and ensuring that they get to the right locations and that there were no guarantees that there would be enough supplies before the end of 2021.
“So, if we compute that number with the preliminary information that we are getting with these vaccine manufacturers because it is not only the cost of the vaccines. There are also additional costs that are needed to deliver those vaccines.
“We know very well that the preliminary rough estimation that is being done, we may need up to $9bn. So, this is a lot of money, a lot of funding that will be needed. First of all, we are not sure that we are going to get enough supply to immunise everybody by the end of 2021. This may spill over to the year after but also to mobilise such an amount of money, I think it will be an additional challenge,” Mihigo said.
Mihigo said the COVAX Facility, which is a GAVI-coordinated pooled procurement mechanism for developing COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring fair and equitable access, would make 20 per cent of the vaccines available.
He said that there are discussions ongoing with the African Union to work with other multilateral or development institutions like the World Bank, Afrexim Bank to mobilise resources.
“Depending on how much vaccines we need, starting by the COVAX facility alone, I think there is an ambition to reach at least 20 per cent but as I said before there are a lot of discussions going on if we really need to reach a herd immunity that will help people to go back to some sort of normal life”, he said.