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CORONA VIRUS

Gaps Remain In Countries’ Readiness to Deploy COVID-19 Vaccines- World Bank

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As countries undertake the largest vaccination campaign in history, the World Bank has worked with governments, WHO, UNICEF, the Global Fund and GAVI on assessing countries’ readiness to safely deploy COVID-19 vaccines in 128 low- and middle-income countries.

The results indicate that income level and other economic indicators correlate weakly with vaccine preparedness.

The report focuses on ten key indicators, including cold chain & logistics, population prioritization, budgeting, training of healthcare personnel, and safety surveillance, among others.

Initial findings show that 85% of countries that participated in the assessments have developed national vaccination plans and 68% have safety measures in place, including systems for reporting adverse reactions.

However, only 30% have developed plans to train the large number of vaccinators who will be needed and only 27% have created social mobilization and public engagement strategies to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Given worrying  vaccine hesitancy, strategies to generate confidence, acceptance and demand for vaccines are urgently needed.

Countries affected by conflict and fragility (37 out of 128) scored lower than other countries on almost all indicators.

“Many developing countries are in the midst of preparing aggressive COVID19 vaccine delivery plans,” said Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank.

“While most countries are well enough prepared to begin inoculating their populations, there are still important gaps that must urgently be addressed for wide, large scale vaccination rollouts to succeed.”
The World Bank is providing US$12 billion for developing countries to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments and strengthen health and vaccination systems to ensure that vaccines get to those who need them.

Murthi added that, “Our vaccination programs will reach over 40 countries in the near-term, amounting to $3 billion out of the $12 billion available.”

The readiness assessments will inform our projects and help governments and healthcare professionals better understand and manage the complex task of vaccinating large adult populations in a very short timeframe.
The assessments also show that:
*         Although countries have gaps in readiness, most have prepared well enough across most essential areas to begin their immunization drives as soon as they receive vaccines.
*         Existence of well-functioning child immunization national delivery systems is not a strong predictor of country readiness to deliver vaccines for adults, such as COVID-19 vaccines.
*         A weak correlation between GDP and readiness indicates that countries with more developed economies are not necessarily better prepared for massive vaccination programs.
*         The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is an opportunity to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly cold chain that could be of use well beyond the current crisis.
Fair, broad, and fast access to effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines, especially in poor countries, is vital to save lives and strengthen global economic recovery. Only once the pandemic is contained in all countries will each country be safe from a resurgence and able to focus all efforts on overcoming the deepest global recession in eight decades.
Full Report : https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/health/publication/assessing-country-readiness-for-covid19-vaccines-first-insights-from-the-assessment-rollout?cid=hnp_tt_health_en_ext

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CORONA VIRUS

Tanzania Says It Never Suspended Data On Covid-19

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Last year in May, Tanzania stopped publishing data on Covid-19 situation while other countries in the East African regional bloc gave daily updates of statistics on the pandemic.

However, one year later, yesterday, the Tanzanian government said it never stopped keeping track of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country despite having stopped releasing data in May, last year.

Deputy Health minister Godwin Mollel said, “statistics have always been there. If there were no statistics or updates on what was going on, then everybody would have been very worried.”

Mollel said that the government had its own way of communicating with the relevant bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), regarding various diseases.

Meanwhile, the director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Leonard Subi, issued a statement admitting growing fears of Covid-19 third wave in Tanzania and urging all stakeholders to take action.

Dr Subi directed that the private and public sectors must take steps to strengthen all preventive measures to curb the threat of the third wave of the virus, including wearing face masks, hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing.

“Private sectors, social and religious leaders should now take action by influencing communities to take all necessary precautions, by educating, and implementing interventions to protect themselves from threat of the Covid-19 third wave,” Dr Subi said over the weekend.

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CORONA VIRUS

Rwanda Imposes Tough Lockdown Again

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Movements between districts and to or from the capital Kigali have been frozen and the directive will be reviewed after two weeks.

This is not the first time, Rwanda government has imposed such a measure aimed at preventing the further spread of Covid-19.

Presently, Rwanda has recorded a total of 30,813 infections since March last year when the first covid-19 case was reported. So far Deaths recorded have reached 382. A total of 26,704 cases have recovered.

With the growing surge of infections in the country, the government has again revised downwards the curfew hours to 7PM- 4AM.

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CORONA VIRUS

World Bank, African Union Team Up To Support Rapid Vaccination For Over 400 Million People In Africa

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The African Finance Ministers and the World Bank Group met today to fast track vaccine acquisition on the continent and avoid a third wave.

In a boost to the African Union’s target to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population by 2022, the World Bank and the AU announced that they are partnering to support the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative with resources to allow countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa.

This extraordinary regional effort complements COVAX and comes at a time of rising COVID-19 cases in the region.

World Bank financing is available to support the purchase and deployment of doses secured by AVATT.

“The World Bank is very pleased to support African countries through this partnership with the African Union to quickly provide hundreds of millions of doses,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.”Working together, we can expedite doses to countries and support deployment. Countries urgently need more pathways for acquiring vaccines that match their needs and have early delivery schedules.”

“As a result of this joint initiative between the World Bank and African institutions such as the Africa Import Export Bank and the Africa Centre for Disease Control, we now have the capacity to vaccinate at least 400 million people, or 30% of our population of 1.3 billion,” said Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy and coordinator of the AVATT.

He added that, “We really appreciate the extraordinary partnership on this initiative between the AU Vaccine Champion, HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, and David Malpass, the President of the World Bank.”

The World Bank has US$12 billion in vaccine financing available to help countries purchase and distribute vaccines and address readiness issues.

The World Bank has already approved operations to support vaccine roll out in 36 countries.

By end June, the World Bank expects to be supporting vaccination efforts in 50 countries, two thirds of which are in Africa.

The World Bank also has strong partnerships with regional institutions such as the Africa Center for Disease Control, West African Health Organization, and the African Union Commission to enhance cross-border collaboration on disease surveillance, preparedness and response.

The World Bank-financed COVID-19 vaccine operations allow countries to purchase vaccines through COVAX, through regional initiatives, and through bilateral procurement from manufacturers.

As such, the Bank has been working closely with AVATT to see that countries in Africa can use World Bank financing to purchase COVID-19 doses through the AVATT initiative as well.

The goal of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which is an initiative of the African Union Commission, Africa CDC, Afreximbank, the AU Special Envoys for COVID-19, and UNECA, is to provide the continent with sufficient and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines.

It has already successfully negotiated 220 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine for use by African countries, with an option for 180 million more based on demand.

AVATT works and coordinates closely with the African Ministers of Finance in the efforts towards realizing herd immunity for full reopening of the continent’s economies.

“A key priority in this initiative is to make sure the purchase of vaccines translates into people getting vaccinated,” noted Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the ECA.

World Bank financing and technical assistance is available to help countries effectively deploy vaccines, including expanding storage and building cold chain, developing tracking systems to make sure vaccines reach people, training health workers and supporting citizen and community engagement to address vaccine hesitancy.

Beyond the current emergency, building resilient health systems in Africa that can respond to future pandemics will be key.

In addition, the IFC, the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, is leading a consortium to support Africa’s regional vaccine production.

Work toward investments in South Africa, Senegal, and Rwanda is at an advanced stage.

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