A two-day consultative session on the development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus in Africa commenced on Thursday.

In a statement, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said medical experts and various stakeholders discussed “a roadmap for the development of a safe … affordable … and accessible COVID-19 vaccine in Africa, with the involvement of Africans.”

“The meeting brought together African leaders, public health professionals, policymakers, the media, civil society, community leaders, private sector representatives, pharmaceutical industry experts, and [other] partners,” read the statement.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also chairperson of the African Union for this year, stressed the need for “cooperation and a sense of urgency” to find a suitable vaccine.

He said the vaccine must be made in Africa with raw materials sourced from the continent.

“Success in developing and providing access to a safe vaccine requires an innovative and collaborative approach, with significant local manufacturing in Africa. We need to support the contribution of African scientists and healthcare professionals. We need to act with urgency,” he said.

While he may have referred to the artemisia plant potion developed by Madagascar to treat COVID-19, Sub-Saharan Africa has no standing globally in terms of vaccine manufacturing.

According to the statement, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke about the significant disruptions to routine public health services across Africa due to the pandemic.

Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said the onset of COVID-19 was delayed in Africa but the number of cases and deaths was increasing rapidly by the day.

He said Africa must be prepared for a rise in infections, as witnessed in Latin America after easing of lockdowns.

Nkengasong said the availability of a vaccine is essential for African countries to return to full economic activity.

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