Ethiopia Pushes for Covid Vaccine via COVAX

ADDIS ABEBA –  Ethiopia is pushing for covid vaccine through the Word Health Organization’s COVAX program, its ministry of health said, amid fierce global competition to get the medicine for the deadly respiratory disease.

The announcement comes amid growing frustration caused by Western manufacturers – Pfizer, Moderna and Astrazeneca – decision to sell billions of doses to rich countries in advance.

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Pundits are saying that African countries may not get full access to affordable vaccines until after the rich world has vaccinated its people.

Ongoing Effort

“Ethiopia is trying to secure the vaccine,” Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, told reporters.

The Ministry of Health has already put in place prerequisites required to get to the vaccine and that has been communicated to COVAX.

When the vaccine is secured, the minister said the vaccine will initially be made available to a limited number of people and based on other countries’ experience, when the medicine is secured.

The country would also target to vaccinate vulnerable people, possibly frontline workers.

In the long term, the government has a plan to make it available to the public at large. That plan could, however, be realized if the current talks with the world bank to secure finance become successful.

Dr. Lia has confirmed that talks are ongoing with the World Bank.

If the country managed to successfully secure the vaccine, its transportation to the country would be backed by Ethiopian airlines’ recent move to launch a cold chain air freight to transport temperature-sensitive medicines, including a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Tricky Chance

Last week, the director of Addis Abeba based-Africa CDC, John Nkengasong, said African health officials are taking heart in vaccine progress, but concerns are growing that the continent of 1.3 billion people will be near the end of the line in obtaining doses.

The officials said they are not sure whether vaccines will be available in Africa before the second quarter of next year.

At least 60% of the continent’s population needs to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to achieve herd immunity in Africa’s 54 countries, according to Africa CDC.

Traditional vaccine?

In addition, The Minister revealed that efforts to make medicine for the disease locally have shown positive results after laboratory tests on a traditional medicine getting an okay in its first round.

If traditional medicine managed to pass the second round of a laboratory test, the next step would be clinical trials. This stage is being conducted with the involvement of foreign institutions, said health minister Dr. Lia, without naming them.

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