Nov 26, 2020 - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Photo of Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong speaking at a press briefing
Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

  • Africa surpassed two million confirmed cases last week. The continent will require around 1.5 billion vaccine doses, Nkengasong said at a press briefing, but only 24% of the 47 sub-Saharan African countries have plans in place for resources and funding, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The big picture: The Africa CDC has explored vaccine options with Russia and China, among others. The goal is to vaccinate 20% of the population by the end of 2021, WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti said in a separate briefing.

  • But vaccinating priority populations alone will require more than $5 billion — even without costs for delivery, according to the WHO.
  • The cold storage necessary for maintaining vaccines is another challenge.
  • In the meantime, authorities have distributed 2.7 million antigen tests to enable faster and easier testing, which Nkengasong said is “perhaps a game-changer.”
Go deeper