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Global COVID-19 experts see inequitable vaccine distribution and reluctance to be key challenges for Africa in 2021

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Mass vaccinations must be treated like a multi-year marathon and reluctance to immunize must be corrected before herd immunity can be achieved. – Dr Tim Mastro, Chief Scientist at FHI 360; Health authorities should share vaccine deployment information with the public in lay language to increase trust and acceptance – Dr Anban Pillay, SA Department of Health; All countries should have national vaccine deployment plans that allow for detailed planning. – Dr Phionah Atuhebwe (https://bit.ly/3qhE2Zr), Africa Region of the World Health Organization (WHO); To beat the large-scale pandemic, health authorities must invest in microplanning on the ground, as well as a comprehensive control tower approach supported by digital resources and data management – Dr Ernest Darkoh, co-founder of BroadReach Group.

BroadReach (www.BroadReachcorporation.com) Group, a global social enterprise focused on harnessing health technologies and innovation that empowers human action, yesterday brought together key global and African health experts to share the challenges and solutions around mass vaccination against COVID-19 across Africa.

Dr Tim Mastro (https://bit.ly/3qjC2Qx), Scientific Director of FHI 360, a respected international nonprofit human development organization, said the main challenges for 2021 included the inequitable distribution of the COVID- vaccine. 19 between rich and poor, different virals. variations and reluctance to vaccination.

The massive advances in vaccine science over the past year offered hope, but the global community needed to learn from its mistakes with inequitable access to HIV care 20 years ago, as well as progress made in the ever-changing annual influenza vaccinations.

“If we did it right with the research and investment for COVID vaccines, we could have significantly improved vaccines in the future. One vision would be for us to have universal vaccines for all coronaviruses and flu – this is something vaccine science can offer. “

In response to international research findings that only three out of four people were ready to be vaccinated, FHI 360 developed a simple three-step guide (https://bit.ly/3qiVAo3) to help health authorities gain the public confidence in their immunization programs.

Award-winning public health specialist and new medical officer of health for the WHO African Region, Dr Phionah Atuhebwe (https://bit.ly/3qhE2Zr), said African countries can access vaccines in three ways:

  • WHO and CEPI GAVI‘s COVAX initiative (https://bit.ly/3kQb4P7), the fastest route, pooled demand to accelerate manufacturing and ensured sufficient supply for 20% of the African population
  • The African Union Vaccine Allocation Task Force in Africa (AVATT) which secured 670 million doses for Africa
  • Bilateral agreements of countries with vaccine manufacturers

Atuhebwe said equitable distribution, national regulations, targeting the population and reluctance to immunize were the four biggest barriers to vaccine distribution and acceptance in Africa. Countries have had to explore emergency use authorization pathways and adopt detailed national vaccine deployment plans including details such as their target populations, immunization schedules, chains of command, licensing arrangements. special import and compensation agreements with manufacturers, so they can do crucial things. micro-planning ”.

Dr Anban Pillay (https://bit.ly/30jjOEd), Deputy Director General of South Africa‘s National Department of Health, said they are in talks with all major vaccine suppliers and their advisory committee is reviewing efficiency and practicality. all vaccines in the context of the SA variant and other factors such as HIV prevalence. The government has established national committees for the selection, deployment, distribution, administration and communication of vaccines and has consulted with stakeholders in the private and public sectors, professional associations, unions and civil society .

The South African government has prioritized choosing vaccines that would be effective against the South African variant and prevent hospitalizations and mortality. His department has also prioritized communicating with the public in non-scientific language to increase confidence and acceptance of vaccines.

Pillay stressed the importance of electronic data management to monitor vaccine supply, use and coverage and adverse events – a vital tool that was not available in previous pandemics.

South Africa would immunize around 1.2 million health workers in phase 1, a much larger group comprising the elderly and those with co-morbidities in phase 2, and launch mass vaccinations by the third quarter of 2021, Pillay said.

Dr Ernest Darkoh (https://bit.ly/2OrsW77), co-founder of BroadReach, board member of the Schwab Foundation and health hero of TIME Magazine, said herd immunity was quickly a feat massive logistics that required pragmatic micro-planning. This involved good management of the cold chain and storage, ensuring that vaccines were handled and prepared on time and correctly, that staff arrived early enough to prepare vaccines before patients arrived, that patients arrived at the facilities. deadlines, syringes were safely disposed of, and proper electronic records. have been tracked every step of the way so that deployments can be well managed at the macro and micro levels.

“At BroadReach, we’ve been obsessed with what makes field programs work on a Monday morning on a large scale. When vaccines arrive on pallets at the airport, that’s where the real challenges begin. Staff should be trained on all aspects, including technology, and you should perform dry tests before vaccines arrive. “

The African Centers for Disease Control (CDC) goal of 780 million vaccinations over the next 12 months would require 3.5 million doses per day for a single dose, or 7 million per day for a double dose. “There are a lot of things that have to work well for this to work.”

“We urgently need countries to invest in integrated digital and data solutions early on, not when they are already in crisis mode, in the worst heat of the fire. Paper poses major problems. “

“Basically, we’re not developing all of these things just for COVID – we need them for all diseases. We need a comprehensive approach to the control tower. Don’t make COVID just another vertical disease control program, use it as an opportunity to improve all major health systems for the future.

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