Africa will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX scheme by the end of the month, with millions of doses of AstraZeneca shots already allocated to countries across the continent.
Nigeria, the most populous nation, will receive 16 million doses, while Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the next two most populous states, are in line for 9 million and 7 million doses respectively, according to an interim distribution forecast published on Wednesday.
The distribution will be done in line with the population size of countries, though not all are slated to receive COVAX doses. Countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Morocco, South Africa, Seychelles and Mauritius are not part of the scheme due to their upper middle income economic status.
“We are on the path to really start balancing out a global map, which so far has shown how many lower-income countries are yet to start vaccinating a single person, while other, wealthier countries go ahead toward mass vaccination,” said Frederik Kristensen, deputy chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which heads Covax together with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The forecast laid out plans for the distribution of more than 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and 1.2 million of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccines around the world. Shipping of the AstraZeneca vaccines is scheduled to start late February, with most doses arriving before the end of the second quarter of the year, according to the document.
The plans are non-binding and could change due to manufacturing or operational constraints, or a lack of preparedness by individual countries, according to the forecast.