The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is returning 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to COVAX, after concluding it will not be able to administer them before they expire.
Devex Newswire reports that the country received 1.7 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the global distribution facility in early March. The government paused its vaccine rollout after several European countries suspended their use of the vaccine due to concerns about blood clots. The country has only distributed 1,000 doses since launching the vaccination campaign on April 19.
Studies by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that Vaccine hesitancy is a big obstacle. In study only 59% of respondents in DRC were willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Overall, respondents were wary of the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. The exception is Ethiopia, where 94% of respondents were willing to be vaccinated.
Dr. John Nkengasong, Africa Centre For Disease Control (CDC) director is urging African countries to accept the vaccine that is available to them. “We do not have choices,” he said at a briefing on Thursday. WHO’s Africa director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, applauded DRC’s “extremely wise” and “very generous” decision to return the vaccines for use elsewhere.
The World Bank previously found that out of 128 countries it surveyed, only 30% had plans for scaling up the necessary workforce to deliver vaccines.