There is a high level of concern regarding the access of African countries to the coronavirus vaccines. The vaccines are fairly costly, with many African economies unable to afford them. Senior research fellow at the South African Institute for security studies, Stephanie Walters, says there are international efforts like Provax, which aims to provide the vaccines for free. However, there is a very low uptake in many African countries. Walters, talking on the Africa Report on Radio Islam, said if you examine the DRC, or Chad, for example, the population simply doesn’t feel comfortable taking the vaccine. They are distrustful of it. According to Walters, many African countries don’t believe that COVID is something that has affected them, nor is relevant to their lives. To an extent, this is as there hasn’t been the kind of mortality and infection rates seen in other African countries over the last 18 months. Walters said, “one of the other problems that goes along with that is that not only is there not a big uptake of the COVID vaccine, but in fact, a lot of parents are now reluctant to have their children vaccinated, as they normally would, for things like measles, mumps and rubella, because they’re afraid that the hospital might vaccinate the children with the COVID vaccine at the same time.”
There is currently a lot of effort going into raising awareness as well as education concerning the vaccine. Nevertheless, Walters says it is still going to pose a huge challenge. She said, “even beyond the question of uptake by people is the question of the logistics – reaching some of the more isolated parts of the continent where we know that infrastructure is lagging.” She added, “Right now we’re looking at vaccinations in big cities, which is of course very important, because those are high density areas.”
It seems that a major challenge that will be faced, is when populations that live in areas where there are no roads, are going to be the focus of the coronavirus vaccine. The challenge will be the logistics of vaccinating, and also, of course, the cost of doing so.
Umm Muhammed Umar