The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked that all Covid vaccine donations be paused until at least the fall or winter, Politico reports.
John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa CDC, said that the main challenge is no longer supply shortages but vaccine hesitancy and logistical challenges.
“It makes sense to say, ‘Look, let’s pause and avoid the risk of sending so much that it gets expired, and then clear this and put our efforts in taking these ones up so we can now see how many people have actually been immunized — and then maybe now you can look at the next wave of donations,’” he said.
The move marks a big shift after African nations spent months urging more donations amid a slow rollout.
“It’s not to say that donations are not important,” he said. “It’s just to say let’s not just do it at once.”
Worries of waste:
Nkengasong said that African leaders have been able to better plan distributions and predict how many doses they will need in the near future.
“It’s like buying a whole basket of foods and just to put it on your kitchen counter,” he said. “If you cannot use any, it will rot. But if you do that in smaller pieces, then you still get to the end goal with the same amount of food on your kitchen table — but at least you don’t have any waste.”
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) said it is working on tailoring vaccine supplies to countries’ individual needs.
“At the time of a pandemic, we don’t want waste. There’s always waste in vaccines campaigns, but we want to minimize that as much as possible,” Gavi CEO Seth Berkley told Politico. “Early on, people wanted whatever they could get. But now we’re moving to a much more sophisticated place.”
Logistics and hesitancy:
More than supply, Nkengason said the “greatest barrier you have now is: how do you provide enough logistics to vaccinate at scale?”
African nations have struggled to maintain the necessary cold storage capacity, needle and syringe supplies.
“There are scenarios where a government will deliver vaccines to a remote area, but when you go there, you realize that you just lack a needle to get the vaccines into arms,” he said.
Hesitancy has been a big issue too, especially among younger people.