The African Union has signaled a demand for more Covid-19 vaccines from India, despite the fact that the Asian country is recovering from low production after a month-long deadly wave.
On Thursday, the African centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the African Union will send a delegation to India to negotiate further supplies to Africa.
“We are very happy that India is starting vaccine exports. However, we do not yet know how many doses Africa will receive, ”said Dr. John Nkengasong, who heads the CDC for Africa, during a virtual press conference on Thursday.
India was a major vaccine exporter to Africa before stopping exports to focus on fighting local infections.
Now the African Union is saying India’s resumption of vaccine exports means the continent must work directly with the country on supplies.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa, the AU champion at Covid -19, is sending a delegation to India that will include Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, AU Special Envoy, to speak to the Indian leadership so that they can give us vaccines, ”said Dr. Nkengasong.
According to the official agreement from last year, the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, should deliver 1 billion doses to low and middle income countries. In 2020 alone, the vaccine manufacturer had to provide 400 million vaccine doses through Gavi, the international vaccine alliance of which the World Health Organization (WHO) is a member.
This commitment did not materialize after an increase in Covid cases in India, which the Indian government to ban the export of vaccines and give priority to their citizens.
After exporting 66.3 million doses by April 16 this year, identified by the Indian government as Vaccine Maitri. were touted (vaccine friendship), which aims to position India as the center for vaccine manufacturing, the initiative has since been halted.
Earlier this year, the WHO said that India’s decision to export Covid-19 vaccines to ban, had badly hit 91 nations that were dependent on the SII for vaccines.
The global health authority further stated that many countries, especially in Africa, with inadequate vaccine supplies, are extremely susceptible to new strains of Covid-19, including B.1.617, remained. 2, which was first discovered in India.
“There are 91 countries affected by the supply shortage, especially as the AstraZeneca parent company was unable to compensate for the non-serum doses.
“If this unfair distribution of available vaccines continues, some countries will return to normal while others will be hit very hard by subsequent waves,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Senior Scientist.
Last week, Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe urged India, which has also made a “fill-and-finish” deal with Johnson and Johnson (J&J), to remember their commitments, their Covax commitments and commitments priority to meet despite their own challenges.
“We appeal to countries like India, with which we had an agreement under the Covax facility, to supply vaccines and their promises and commitments to adhere to us. We understand that with the rise in infections, they too have a challenge. But they have to meet their commitments, ”he said.
However, SII’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla said it was vital for nations that depend on India for vaccines is to remember that the country is also a low income country.
“Our exports to Covax will resume in October. However, we will not be able to export to Covax in large quantities until January 2022, when local demand is met, ”said Poonawalla.
Dr. 19 vaccine will hit the market soon. WHO experts are expected to decide whether to give the vaccine emergency approval by WHO after experts reviewed the data and approved it for use earlier this week.
” Next, the WHO and an independent expert group will meet week to conduct the risk-benefit assessment and make a final decision on whether Covaxin will be granted an emergency list, “tweeted the WHO after a meeting of its strategic advisory group of experts (SAGE) to discuss the Covaxin EUL application.
The maker of Covaxin, Bharat Biotech, has continued to submit data and additional information to WHO as requested by WHO on September 27th.
WHO experts are currently reviewing this information and if possible will answer any questions raised, the WHO assessment will be completed next week.
“The WHO and the Technical Advisor The Emergency Use Listing process conducted by the group of independent experts focuses on determining whether a manufactured product such as the vaccine is guaranteed, safe and effective, “said the global health agency in a series of official tweets.
The Africa CDC chief also said the AU is in ongoing talks with Western governments over intellectual property (IP.) Rights to allow Africa to manufacture its own vaccines.
“What we need now, however, are vaccines . Since we started the vaccination campaign, 200 million doses have been delivered to 55 AU member states, with 115 million doses used, which is 76 percent. However, for those who are fully vaccinated or who received both the first and second vaccination, the figure is 4.5 percent.
“The uptake in Morocco is 53 percent, in Tunisia 26 percent, in South Africa at 16 percent, Algeria with 9 percent and Egypt with 6 percent are among the top performers in the region, ”he emphasized.