• Thursday, July 25, 2024
businessday logo


Covid-19 vaccines demand in Africa still higher than supply – PERC

COVID-19 vaccination improves mental health

Demand for Covid-19 vaccines in the African continent is substantially higher than supply even as the Omicron variant of the virus is spreading wide, a new report by the Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to Covid-19 (PERC), has said.

According to the report, less than 7 percent of the African continent has been vaccinated as of November 2021.

It added that the gap between acceptance and coverage demonstrates a substantial unmet need and underscores the importance of consistent and predictable vaccine supply as well as increased support for vaccination programmes in Africa.

The report stated that vaccine acceptance stands at 78 percent, which was higher than 67 percent that was recorded in the previous PERC survey fielded earlier this year, indicating the success of risk communication campaigns.

The countries that were surveyed include Guinea, Morocco, Mozambique, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, and they showed 90 percent vaccine acceptance.

Read also: COVID-19: Nigeria fails on vaccination target as bottlenecks persist

According to PERC, vaccine acceptance was high among those who trusted their government’s pandemic response and those who felt Covid-19 posed a personal risk to them or to their country.

Such high acceptance contradicts media reports suggesting that low vaccination rates across Africa are due to hesitancy.

PERC report further disclosed that among the 20 percent of respondents who expressed vaccine hesitancy, the reasons were 24 percent low-risk perception, 22 percent not having enough information about vaccines and 17 percent lack of trust in government.

The report further shows that some bottlenecks have contributed to the failure to achieve higher vaccination coverage.

It listed them to include unpredictable supply in terms of volume, timing and shelf life threatens countries’ ability to meet demand. Others include inconvenience which requires people to travel far distances or visit vaccination sites at inopportune times.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said there is a need to work urgently toward equitable access to safe and effective vaccines on the African continent.

Commenting, Amanda McClelland, senior vice president of the Prevent Epidemics at Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, said: “I am heartened by the efforts of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the COVAX facility to expand vaccine access.”

McClelland further stated that there is still work to do as vaccine donations sent too close to expiry dates leave countries unable to launch effective vaccination campaigns.

Pundits believed that Covid-19 preventive measures remain crucial to mitigating the health impact of the virus. This was why PERC researchers analysed what influences support for and adherence to such measures and found that individual actions such as hand washing, mask-wearing and social distancing all garnered support from at least 90 percent of survey respondents.

Such high support suggests that these key measures can continue to be effective strategies for reducing Covid-19 transmission while preventive measures such as restricting gathering or movement received less support.

Meanwhile, unemployment and food insecurity were widespread among survey respondents and made adherence to restrictive community measures a challenge. PERC researchers concluded that such measures should be targeted to specific, high-risk populations as needed to minimise harm.

“The PERC data-enabled policymakers to both save lives and minimise impacts on livelihoods. The global community has an opportunity to invest in health care workers and public health infrastructure to support vaccine delivery and COVID-19 care and prevention in the near term,” said Tom Frieden, president/CEO of the Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies.

PERC polled approximately 23,000 people across 19 African Union Member States compiled social, economic and epidemiological data from a range of sources; and compared results from previous surveys conducted in February 2021 and August 2020.