Dr. Mercy Ahun, a global vaccine professional, is confident in the ability of African countries to effectively coordinate COVID-19 vaccine rollouts.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Dr. Ahun, who has served as a Special representative to GAVI Eligible Countries, tagged the experience African countries have in handling immunisation campaigns as a positive.
“African countries have been planning and coordinating mass immunisation campaigns for decades, so I believe we are excellent at that.”
Dr. Ahun, however, noted the importance of having a standard cold chain.
The cold chain is the network of cold rooms, freezers, refrigerators, cold boxes, and carriers that keep vaccines at the right temperature.
“The cold chain is important. We have looked at the cold chain issues. For example, we said we wanted a cold chain which is consistent with what we have now [in Ghana] because some of the vaccines need extreme cold chains which will take a while to institute,” she said.
The list for distributing the vaccines is an interim one and Dr. Ahun stressed that Ghana needs to be alert “because there is a traffic light system to monitor the country’s readiness to introduce the vaccine.”
“So if the country is not green green green, it means that the country is not ready so there are so many different arms; moving parts which need to come together for the country to introduce the vaccine on time.”
Though African countries appear to be lagging behind in the coronavirus vaccine procurement efforts because of primarily vaccine nationalism, Dr. Ahun expects the wealthier countries to see the need to ensure global herd immunity.
“National governments tend to follow their own interests first before following a coordinated global approach, but I think what we are all learning can negatively impact the management and containment of the pandemic.”
“Fast and alone won’t get us anywhere to address this problem. That is why the rich countries are contributing to COVAX so that we will be able to address this issue,” she added.
Ghana expects to start receiving COVAX vaccines for roll-out next month.