In Africa, widespread campaigns to distribute Covid-19 vaccines will likely only begin in the second quarter of next year because of challenges around accessing the shots and preparing countries for their distribution.”
Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this month commenced a voluntary Covid-19 vaccination programme, offering all citizens and residents vaccines for free should they wish to be inoculated.
Starting out in Abu Dhabi early December, the programme has since been extended to Dubai and the Northern Emirates as the government pushes for nationwide immunity against the novel coronavirus.
The vaccine being administered in the UAE is the China-developed Sinopharm jab, with two injections given 21 days apart. It is reportedly available at public and private clinics, as well as field hospitals across the Gulf federation’s seven emirates.
According to the Emirati regulators, the shot was found to be 86 percent effective and was approved for use after Phase 3 trials – involving more than 30,000 people – deemed it effective against the virus. No further detail has been released about the vaccine or the trial process.
The UAE had in September approved emergency use of the drug for frontline medical staff and has now expanded access to all adults. The Arab nation has a population of one million nationals and over eight million foreign residents.
Reports show some residents are reluctant to get vaccinated while some western officials say their nationals are anxious about potential long-term side effects of the shot.
Given the vaccination programme is voluntary, the government has been working towards encouraging people to take the jab. Last month, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum tweeted a picture of himself being inoculated to his millions of followers.
Meanwhile, other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are vaccinating according to age and vulnerability. Britain on December 8 launched the world’s first mass vaccination, starting with the over-80s, care home workers, and at-risk frontline health and social care staff.
In Africa, widespread campaigns to distribute Covid-19 vaccines will likely only begin in the second quarter of next year because of “challenges around accessing the shots and preparing countries for their distribution,” a director at Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said in November.
A survey by the Africa CDC, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Vaccine Confidence Project, and Orb International showed that a majority of Africans captured are willing to take a vaccine once it’s publicly available and deemed safe and effective.
Nigeria expects to obtain its first shipment of a vaccine in January, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said last week, adding that a committee has been set up to select the jab most suitable for the country against the virus.