Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eisenhower Mkaka, says experts at the African Union (AU) are expected to engage member governments and Covid-19 manufacturers to see how best African countries can be provided with effective vaccines that adjust due to the new coronavirus variants that have emerged in South Africa.
The emergence of mutated versions of the virus had “raised questions” about their impact on vaccines particularly after South Africa decided to halt AstraZeneca vaccinations when a study showed the vaccine was less effective at preventing the variant there.
Speaking in Lilongwe when he briefed journalists on the major highlights of the 34th ordinary session of the AU held under the theme “Arts, culture and heritage: Levers for building the Africa we want”, held on February 6 and 7, said a current AU report on the pandemic exposed several issues like the existing health challenges that member states are facing in the fight against the disease.
Amongst other things, the leaders virtually discussed issues ranging from top management of the AU, institutional reform of the organization and the AU Covid-19 response.
“The member states expressed the need for equity and timely access to the COVID-19 vaccine within the continent to achieve the target of vaccinating at least 90 per cent of the population by the end of this year,” he said.
However, Mkaka said the organization has not yet made its official stand on the recent development whereby the administration of one of the vaccines, AstraZeneca, has been temporarily put on hold in South Africa, due to disappointing results.
Reports indicate that a recent trial of the vaccine in South Africa offered minimal protection against mild and moderate cases mainly amongst the youth with only a turnaround of 10 per cent.
“This being a new development, heads of government did not have a chance to discuss the matter and do not have an official stand of the issue at the moment.
“However, health experts at the AU are likely to engage vaccine manufacturers, stakeholders and AU heads of government to ensure that any vaccine being provided to Africans will be effective in combating the disease,” said Mkaka.
President Lazarus Chakwera, who attended the summit from Lilongwe, acknowledged the African Centre for Disease Control for the support rendered to Malawi through the provision of technical expertise and Personal Protective Equipment in the fight against the disease.
The meeting was preceded by the 38th Session of the Executive Council on February 3 and 4. Both meetings were held virtually as a COVID-19 preventative measure.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :