The World Health Organization (WHO) African region has said there are about 150 prospective COVID-19 vaccines being developed with 19 in clinical trials.
“Globally, there are nearly 150 COVID-19 vaccine candidates and currently, 19 are in clinical trials,” the WHO Africa said in a statement on its website.
Also, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti in a statement on Thursday called on the continent to take steps to ensure they have fair access to the vaccine.
Moeti lamented that African countries lag behind when it comes to new technologies as well as vaccines while calling for equity when the COVID-19 vaccines are finally released.
“It is clear that as the international community comes together to develop safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19, equity must be a central focus of these efforts,” she said.
“Too often, African countries end up at the back of the queue for new technologies, including vaccines. These life-saving products must be available to everyone, not only those who can afford to pay.”
The WHO Africa region noted that South Africa is the first country on the continent to start a clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccines.
“African Academy of Sciences only 2% of clinical trials conducted worldwide occur in Africa,” the agency said.
“I encourage more countries in the region to join these trials so that the contexts and immune response of populations in Africa are factored in to studies,” said Moeti.
“Africa has the scientific expertise to contribute widely to the search for an effective COVID-19 vaccine.
“Indeed, our researchers have helped develop vaccines which provide protection against communicable diseases such as meningitis, Ebola, yellow fever and a number of other common health threats in the region.”
On Thursday, the WHO launched an independent review into the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announcing the assessment, which will be presented next May, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it should help the world understand how to prevent such crises in the future.
The Independent panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response will be headed by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“Through you, the world will understand the truth of what happened and also the solutions to build our future better as one humanity,” Tedros said at the UN agency’s headquarters in Geneva.