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Africa making very good progress in COVID-19 vaccine dev't: Africa CDC director

(Xinhua)    09:53, August 14, 2020

The African continent is making very good progress in terms of vaccine development for COVID-19 pandemic, Director of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), John Nkengasong, said.

"The African continent is very active in the vaccine space because we know that it is one of the tools and instruments that are going to actually be determinant in terms of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," Nkengasong said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on late Wednesday.

As of Thursday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa surged to 1,073,788 as the death toll rose to 24,256. The number of people who recovered from their COVID-19 infections also reached 769,023 so far, according to the Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) Commission.

"In terms of vaccine development, Africa is not just sitting idle. We are making very good progress. We are now developing a continental strategy for vaccine, a framework that will guide vaccine development and access efforts in Africa," Nkengasong told Xinhua.

Noting that the African continent is witnessing "a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 infections across the continent," Nkengasong stressed that a high-level meeting that recently brought together African leaders as well as senior officials from the AU Commission as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) had recommended "three pillars" concerning the development and access of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.

According to Nkengasong, the first pillar is the development of "a consortium of clinical trials in Africa using all the assets that we have on the continent. The consortium is moving very well."

"The second pillar is the procurement of vaccines. We are remodeling to understand who may need a vaccine in Africa, who is first to receive that vaccine, and who do we finance a vaccine," Nkengasong said, adding that "we are working very hard with several partners to look at sources of financing vaccines."

According Nkengasong, the third continental intervention in terms of COVID-19 vaccine development and access in Africa is community engagement.

"We are really pleased with the work we are doing with the community towards understanding the perceptions, behaviors and attitudes of the community vis-a-vis potential vaccines on the continent," he added.

The Africa CDC chief also emphasized that the community engagement intervention also envisaged on the perception of vaccine usage among African communities.

"Should vaccines be available, will we want to get a vaccine? Or, would you want your family to take a vaccine? Why would you want to? These are very important ahead of time to prepare the continent for a vaccine," Nkengasong said.

He also stressed that the Africa CDC will announce the results of the work being done concerning the development of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.

Noting that the number of COVID-19 testing in Africa is "encouraging" as more than 9 million people have been tested so far, the director, however, stressed that African countries still need to intensify their testing capabilities.

Nkengasong also emphasized that as a continent Africa needs to conduct about 15 million tests per month to be ahead of the pandemic.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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