• Friday, June 21, 2024
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COVID-19 supply unaffected by Russia-Ukraine war – WHO

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The Russia-Ukraine war is unlikely to interrupt the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa in the short term, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

The reason isn’t far-fetched. Russia’s Sputnik vaccine has remained a minimal segment of imports to plug the vaccine gap on the continent.

There have been concerns that the global shift in focus to the war which is now in its second week could interrupt vaccine shipments to Africa, dampening WHO’s prospects for the year.

Forecasts by the global health body in February pointed to a positive supply outlook, with COVAX securing enough vaccines to achieve 45 percent of coverage across countries by the middle of this year.

AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines constitute the majority of these supplies. The use of the Russian vaccine is still limited despite being registered in 15 African countries.

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Sputnik V is also set back by the lack of emergency use authorisation from the WHO and other important independent regulatory bodies in countries like South Africa.

Nigeria has yet to place an order for Sputnik V eight months after the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) granted it a conditional in the country.

Kenya and Namibia have discontinued the use over safety concerns.

Richard Mihigo, the programme area manager for WHO Africa, at a news conference on Thursday said Russia’s Sputnik COVID-19 vaccines were a minimal component of imports to the continent.

“In the short term, there will be very little impact on the vaccine supply overall in the region,” Mihigo said. “We need to look at the mid-to-long-term impact of this military offensive, and the economic sanctions – it is very difficult to say.”