There are 15 clinical trials of potential COVID-19 vaccines underway across the African continent, according to a comment by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was published Tuesday in the journal Nature.
Five trials are being carried out in South Africa, four in Egypt and one each in Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“We’ve seen a scramble for access to therapies before,” the Nature comment said. “It happened with HIV and H5N1 influenza, for example. And Africa has ended up at the end of the queue every time. Yet the global economy depends on the continent for its exports of raw materials, food, energy and labour.”
“This experience — and the fact that other infectious diseases will surely emerge — is why Africa needs a coordinated strategy to develop, finance, manufacture and deliver vaccines across the continent,” the comment added.
For the past few months, the Africa CDC has been working with African leaders and global health officials on a “whole of Africa” coordinated approach to do just that.
“Infectious agents span the globe in weeks: vaccinating people on one continent is essential to the health, wealth and well-being of those on the others,” the Nature comment said. “No region can be immune until a meaningful and equitable share of the world’s population is protected — by the tenets of good basic public health as well as a vaccine.”
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 1.5 million people across the African continent have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and nearly 37,000 of them have died. South Africa accounts for nearly half of all confirmed cases on the continent, according to the latest data from the Africa CDC.