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In Africa, vaccine hesitation increases the slow distribution of doses

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) – Some Africans are hesitant to receive COVID-19 vaccines amid public safety concerns, as public health officials begin to destroy thousands of doses that have been consumed before use.

Malawi ավային South Sudan has announced in recent days that it will cut some of its doses, a worrying development on the continent, where health officials have spoken out against the need for vaccine justice as the world’s richest countries keep most of the shots.

Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion, representing 16% of the world’s population, received less than 2% of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

The continent has confirmed more than 4.5 million COVID-19 cases, including 120,000 deaths, a small part of the global casualty burden. However, some experts worry that the continent of 54 countries will suffer for a long time if it gives longer than expected to scientists who believe it is necessary to prevent the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in 70% or more of the population through vaccination. or past infection.

Africa aims to vaccinate up to 60% of its population by the end of 2022.

To achieve this, Africa will need about 1.5 billion doses of the vaccine if the AstraZeneca double-dose vaccine continues to be widely used. But safety concerns about the vaccine, often a major blow to donor-sponsored COVAX program access to developing countries, have worried some Africans.

Vaccine suspicions have been widely circulated on social media, in part due to widespread distrust of the authorities. The Minister of Health of Uganda had to deny the falsifications of the shots, even posting a video on Twitter, where he hits the blow, as he urges. “Please stop spreading false rumors.”

Some have raised the untrue claim that footage can cause infertility on sites like WhatsApp. Others openly question the speed with which COVID-19 vaccines are being developed.

“The world has not been able to find a vaccine against AIDS over the years, but have they quickly found a COVID vaccine?” I’m not going to get the vaccine, “said Richard Bale, an electrician in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, who feared the experimental vaccine could be harmful. “Even if the government forces us to get vaccines, as if it were a national ID, I will not go.”

Sierra Leonean Health Minister Austin Demby told reporters last week that one-third of the 96,000 doses received in March were unlikely to be used until their expiration date, citing a lack of urgency among some who decided COVID-19 was not as bad as Ebola, which devastated the country a few years ago.

“People are worried that this is another public experiment they want to make on our people,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged African governments to continue distributing the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying its benefits outweigh the risks as European countries limit its use in rare cases due to rare blood clots.

“Whatever you take, there is a risk. “Any medicine,” John On Nkengasong, CDC director for Africa, said at a briefing last week, citing some essential drugs that can rarely cause blood clots. “That’s the way we should look at these vaccines.”

The African CDC said in a statement last week that it had received guidance from the Indian Serum Institute to extend the shelf life of at least one million AstraZenecas delivered to Africa by the April 13 deadline.

African countries “have no choice,” Nkengasong said, urging Malawi to use all its resources after the South African government said it would burn 16,000 doses of AstraZeneca, which expired in early April.

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

The country has run less than half of the more than 500,000 doses received through COVAX, which has led Victor Mitty, the head of the Malawi Medical Society, to blame for the misconception about the vaccine.

“We are constantly reassuring Malawians that the vaccine is safe, that whenever they experience any of the usual post-vaccination symptoms, they can always come to the hospital and report,” he said.

The additional 1.26 million doses expected from COVAX in late May could be wasted if people continued to avoid the vaccine, said Simeza, president of the National Association of Nurses and Obstetricians of Malawi, adding that a possible solution is to make vaccinations mandatory for all eligible vaccines.

In an effort to increase coverage, the Malawian government has eased vaccine eligibility rules to include anyone 18 18 years of age and focusing primarily on priority groups such as healthcare professionals.

The African country of Uganda, which is also struggling to increase the distribution of vaccines among the priority groups, may soon do so, said Emanuel Ainbiona, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health. He said Ugandans under the age of 50 had shown interest in getting vaccinated, expressing hope that the doses would not be used.

Uganda has received 964,000 doses of AstraZeneca, the only vaccine in the country. But more than 230,000 doses have been administered since March 10.

Health officials planned to fire at least 500,000 people in the first round of vaccination, targeting front-line workers, people under the age of և 50 բարձր and older.

Against the backdrop of a slow spread, they are now reaching the popular “influence” of celebrities such as the kickboxer who was photographed last week.

“Absorption is gradually improving,” Aynbyona said, noting that “communication interventions” were needed to get more Ugandans involved in the vaccination campaign.

Several thousand people are vaccinated daily in centers across the country, including regional hospitals. The local Daily Monitor recently reported that more than 280,000 doses are likely to expire by July, with about 6,000 shots being used daily.

Vaccination groups, without an official record of relevant residents, simply sit and wait for people who may not show up.

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Contributed by Gregory Gondwen in Blantyre, Malawi և Jon Onatan Pai-Lailen in Monrovia, Liberia և Kara Annan in Nairobi, Kenya.

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