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Democratic Republic of Congo has crossed the 10% primary series COVID-19 vaccine coverage milestone, a significant achievement in a populous country where coverage one year ago stood at below 1%, and where the health system is handling multiple priorities including Ebola, cholera and measles.
In January 2022, DRC was one of the 34 COVAX AMC-supported countries whose coverage stood below 10%. Today, with concerted support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and WHO through the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership, only 6 countries remain below 10% – with Cameroon, Mali and Gabon amongst the latest to cross this milestone.
DRC’s vaccination efforts began in 2021, and was met with several challenges including misinformation, limited data, delivery financing, and product choice. The Ministry of Public Health, Hygiene and Prevention has mitigated these barriers by leveraging community-level information-sharing led by community leaders, as well as leading in mobilisation of resources to address funding gaps and invest in better data systems – supported by Gavi and COVAX through the provision of 17.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and delivery funding.
Dr. Derrick Sim, Acting Managing Director of the COVAX Facility, the global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines – comments:
“We are encouraged by DRC’s progress and celebrate the continued commitment shown by government and partners to protect people against COVID-19. This achievement demonstrates that countries dealing with multiple priorities and complex challenges can successfully push coverage forward to achieve vital immunization goals.
With more than 4.8 million new cases and 39,000 deaths reported just last month, and the virus constantly evolving with 7 omicron subvariants currently under observation by WHO, we must remember that COVID-19 is not over. We must continue to prioritize vaccination, especially of the most vulnerable. Vaccines remain our best tool against severe disease, hospitalization, and death – protecting people and ensuring health systems are able to handle other priorities.”
Average primary series coverage across 92 AMC-supported countries and territories currently stands at 54%. In 2023, COVAX will continue to support countries, including the 6 countries which remain under 10% primary coverage, to hit their vaccination targets, particularly the protection of high-risk groups, while working to integrate COVID-19 with routine immunization and further support strengthened and resilient health systems. With 100% country demand met to-date, COVAX has access to the doses to continue to support vaccination efforts.
Source of original article: Africa Science News (africasciencenews.org).
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