25 African countries don’t yet have vaccine orders – is this a problem or not?
Updated Every Month
As analysts focused on African countries, we often see narratives that underplay and imply skepticism of the capacity of Africans to respond to COVID19. Most of this is simply unwarranted. When you look at the data – for example this month’s new data on COVID19 response measures – there is little visible irresponsibility by governments or citizens, given economic and poverty challenges many countries and citizens face.
Due to continued, adapted social distancing measures across the continent, combined with lack of widespread exposure to international markets, Africa as a whole still has considerably less cases than the rest of the world, and within Africa most cases continue to be concentrated in the set of the more globally exposed (e.g. to trade and tourism) countries. Some countries are, however, experiencing new waves, and some even going into new “lockdowns” to manage them – such as Botswana.
Governments are also still increasing testing, and have now started to order vaccines. Just two months ago, only 8 countries had put aside finance to ordering vaccines. Last month, 21 countries had done so, though none had been delivered by then. This month, 7 countries have had vaccine deliveries, while 20 are still to receive their orders. A further 3 countries will get free vaccines from China (the amounts are undisclosed), and the African Union has now ordered 670 million doses of vaccines, which may well be distributed to the 25 countries in waiting…
In total, 26 countries – including low-income and upper-middle-income countries – have ordered a total 326 million doses of vaccines (up from 260 million last month). The vaccines are from a much wider range of sources than last month though, implying governments are really working hard to find suppliers. 27% of those are from the UK’s pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca (was 32% last month) to 9 countries, 24% from China’s Sinopharm (down from 33% last month) to the same 4 African countries, and 14% from the African Union to 2 countries, the same amount as COVAX is expected to supply to 14 countries! Some countries have not specified from whom their vaccines have been ordered.
Despite this good news and effort, like with tests, African countries are likely to be and remain behind. While testing continues to rise across the continent, total tests in Africa account for less than 2% of global tests. The 9 million vaccines now delivered to Africa account for approx. 8% of total vaccines administered across the world, let alone delivered to other locations. Only three countries in Africa are planning to manufacture international vaccines – Morocco (the Chinese vaccine), Egypt (Russian vaccine), and South Africa (US Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Will this be enough?
There is a real scenario that Africans will never get the same access to tests or vaccines as the rest of the world – in such a scenario how can they realistically reopen to tourism, international trade or business travel and escape social distancing? The strategies African countries use to distribute the limited vaccines will be critical, and that’s what we will track next month.
For now, check out the graphics and numbers on African countries’ progress and challenges yourself, and let us know what you’d like to find out next.
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Special thanks go to Rosie Wigmore, Sophia Kladaki, Joana Cobbinah, Rosie Flowers, and Jing Cai for their work on the graphic and collecting/analysing the underlying data.
The data was collated from a range of sources including: government websites and media reports, the IMF policy tracker; the US Chamber COVID19 Dashboard; Our World in Data, Africa CDC and Worldometer. Our methodology is entirely in-house, based on analysis of vaccine, testing, spending, social distancing, income categories and other trends.
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