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World Bank readies COVID-19 vaccine funds for around 30 African countries

The World Bank said financing projects were being prepared in African countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Mozambique, Tunisia, eSwatini, Rwanda and Senegal, without disclosing the amount of support under discussion.

March 03, 2021 / 03:51 PM IST
Source: Reuters

Source: Reuters

The World Bank is preparing emergency financing to help about 30 African countries access COVID-19 vaccines, the global lender told Reuters, as the continent scrambles to secure doses and start immunising vulnerable groups.

Only a handful of African governments have launched mass vaccination campaigns, whereas some countries in wealthier parts of the world have already administered millions of doses.

Many rely on the World Health Organization's vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX, which delivered its first doses last week with a shipment to Ghana.

The World Bank said financing projects were being prepared in African countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Mozambique, Tunisia, eSwatini, Rwanda and Senegal, without disclosing the amount of support under discussion.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"The funds are available now, and for most African countries, the financing would be on grant or highly concessional terms," a bank spokesperson said in response to questions.

Last month the World Bank approved financing of $5 million from the International Development Association to provide Cape Verde with vaccines.

"This is the first World Bank-financed operation in Africa to support a country's COVID-19 immunisation plan and help with the purchase and distribution of vaccines," the spokesperson added.

Africa's reported coronavirus death toll recently surpassed 100,000, a fraction of the fatalities reported on other continents, but is rising fast as a second wave overwhelms hospitals.

African countries that have started vaccinating include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Morocco and Egypt.

Last week the African Union's disease control body said the continental bloc was backing calls for drugmakers to waive some intellectual property rights on vaccines to speed up their roll-out to poorer countries.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
Reuters
first published: Mar 3, 2021 03:19 pm

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