health

Feb. 22, 2022

OWN CORRESPONDENT

2 min read

US govt ramps up vaccination assistance to Lesotho

US govt ramps up vaccination assistance to Lesotho

Story highlights

  • Ten other sub-Saharan countries to also benefit from the aid
  • US to provide intensive support to African countries that show capacity to hasten vaccine uptake

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LESOTHO is part of the 11 African countries that will receive further coronavirus assistance from the United States in a bid to prevent future variants and bolster inoculation efforts in the least vaccinated continent.

Through the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access, or Global Vax, the Biden administration will provide “intensive financial, technical and diplomatic support” to African countries that have recently shown the capacity to hasten vaccine uptake, according to a statement from Rebecca Chalif, a spokeswoman for the United States Agency for International Development.

The agency said it selected a group of countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Lesotho, Angola, Eswatini, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia — based on the burden of COVID-19 on their populations.

The countries were also selected on the capacity of their health systems, their readiness to quickly administer vaccine doses in the absence of supply constraints and their ability to effectively deploy additional U.S. investments.

The agency had allocated $510 million to support global vaccination programmes, and more than half of that funding will be allocated to the first group of African countries.

The Global Vax initiative began in December to help countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, to get more shots into more arms. Even as African countries have received more vaccines, many of them have struggled to distribute them because of a shortage of the ultracold chain freezers needed to keep doses from expiring and because of the difficulties in delivering them to remote towns and villages. Vaccine hesitancy and misinformation have also posed problems.

With the Biden administration’s additional financial assistance, these 11 African countries will receive “increased U.S. government engagement and funding to rapidly assess needs and scale up the rate of vaccination, including support from experts in the U.S. and in the field,” the statement said.

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The latest support from the U.S. government comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) began sending 42 experts to at least 18 African countries that are facing challenges in administering vaccines. For three to six months — and in some cases up to a year — these experts are set to help countries like Burundi, Ethiopia and Mozambique in financial planning, managing vaccine stocks and improving public health measures.

Currently, just 12 percent of the African population — or 168 million people — have been fully vaccinated, according to the WHO, with Africa accounting for just 3.5 percent of the 10.3 billion doses administered globally.

A flurry of new studies suggests three doses of a Covid vaccine — or even just two — can provide long-term protection from serious illness and death. The studies come as U.S. health officials have said that they are unlikely to recommend fourth dose before the fall. The New York Times

 

 

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