By Ayenat Mersie and George Obulutsa
NAIROBI (Reuters) – The African Union’s (AU) top health official called Britain’s lack of recognition for coronavirus vaccines administered in Africa regrettable, saying on Thursday it sends a confusing public health message.
Last week, England added 17 countries to its list of countries that recognize vaccines. These countries do not belong to Africa. Coronavirus policies are set by the British government for England. However, Scotland Wales Northern Ireland and Wales have to make their own decisions.
We regret the UK’s decision to take such a position. John Nkengasong (Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) said, “We regret that the UK would take this position.”
He said, “If you send us vaccines that we use and then you claim you don’t recognize people who have had those vaccines administered to them… this sends us a very difficult message.”
In a joint statement, the British High Commission in Kenya and Kenya’s Health Ministry said Tuesday that it can take time to establish a system for international recognition of vaccine certificates.
Richard Mihigo from the World Health Organization, said that certificates are at the heart of this issue.
Mihigo (coordinator for WHO’s Immunization and Vaccines Development Programme Africa) said that some certificates generated by the WHO should be recognized as such by other countries.
However, Africa still has a low vaccination rate. Just 4% of Africans have been vaccinated and much of the continent remains in the midst of a third wave, Nkengasong said
Monthly vaccine shipments to the continent would have to jump seven-fold to reach a United Nations goal of 70% immunisation of the population by September 2022, WHO Africa said in a separate statement.
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