Report of the High-Level Ministerial Meeting | Partnerships to Accelerate COVID-19 Vaccination in Africa
At the February 2022 Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government (HoSG) Summit, the HoSG committed to exercise leadership to advance the vaccination agenda and urge the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to ensure greater coordination and collaboration to support Member States in achieving the goal of vaccinating at least 70% of the continent’s population by year 2022. They further called for an innovative approach and increased political leadership to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination in Africa. Therefore, this high-level ministerial meeting on 10 March 2022; coconvened by the Africa CDC and WHO AFRO, was held virtually to discuss partnerships to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination in Africa in line with the call to action issued by the HoSG at the February Summit, under the theme “One Country, One Plan”. This meeting was also a follow up to the meeting held on 20 December 2021 which discussed strategies to accelerate uptake of COVID-19 vaccines and moving vaccines from the ports to the arms of the African population.
Fast-tracking COVID-19 vaccine acquisition, delivery and uptake are critical to protecting lives and stimulating economic recovery. With only 15% of the African population reported to be fully vaccinated as of 16 March 2022, African Union (AU) Member States need to identify innovative and effective strategies to ensure more people are vaccinated; and the continent is safe from further disruptions by the pandemic. Although COVID-19 vaccine availability is no longer an obstacle these days, African countries should not relax on this transitional availability of vaccines. Despite the recent steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, the continent has only 38% of its total vaccine requirement to vaccinate 70% of its population. In addition, the steady supply has not successfully translated to vaccine uptake; only 18 AU Member States have had 20% and above of their people fully vaccinated, 16 countries had less than 10% and 11 countries had covered less than 5% of their population.