Even though the Covid-19 vaccine is now available and is already being administered in the UK and the US, Africa may have to wait till middle of next year before it can access the substance.
This is the verdict of vaccinologist Dr Simon Agwale, the leader of Africa’s Vaccine Manufacturing Initiatives.
Speaking with THE WHISTLER from Maryland, USA, Agwale said,
“The vaccine was tried in about 30,000 volunteers before its Emergency Use Authorization in the UK and USA. Before a vaccine goes into human clinical trials, all safety issues are analyzed in the laboratory and appropriate animal models. Apart from some minor side effects, which are associated with all other vaccines (such as fatigue, muscle soreness and aches, joint pain and headache, redness or swelling at the injection site), the 2 Covid-19 vaccines were safe in the last phase of clinical trials.
“I don’t even think the mRNA would be used in Africa because it’s in short supply, and the initial doses have already been bought by wealthy countries. Secondly, it requires ultra-low temperatures for storage which makes it difficult for use in Africa. There are several other vaccines that will be available by the second or third quarter of next year that utilize known technologies that have been used in other vaccines, so I believe they’ll be the appropriate vaccines for use in Africa.”
“On what the Africa’s Vaccine Manufacturing Initiatives is doing to ensure local production of vaccines on the continent, Dr Agwale, who is also the CEO of Innovative Biotech Ltd, Keffi, Nasarawa State said,
“We are working hard to make sure that we have vaccine manufacturing capabilities throughout Africa. This will require human capacity development and funding.
We also note that most of the efforts to discover and produce vaccines for the virus have been concentrated in Europe and America, China and Russia, and that virtually all the proposed doses of Covid-19 vaccines have already been bought by wealthy countries, leaving little hope for Africa and other developing countries to access these vaccines.
There is a lot of interest now among policy makers; and the consensus is that vaccine manufacturing facilities are needed in Africa to enable us not only to address the current Covid-19 vaccine needs of our continent, but to be ready to support future vaccine needs much quicker and offer pandemic readiness. This is based on the historical fact that less than 1% of the vaccines currently in use in Africa are manufactured locally, and that developing and/or manufacturing a Covid-19 vaccine and other vaccines in Africa is of immense long-term strategic benefits to the continent.”