SOUTH AFRICA – The World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has stated that if 70 percent of the world’s population is immunized, the pandemic’s acute phase could end this year.

Our expectation is that the acute phase of this pandemic will end this year, of course with one condition, the 70 percent vaccination (target is achieved) by mid this year around June, July,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters in South Africa.

If that is to be done, the acute phase can really end, and that is what we are expecting. It’s in our hands. It’s not a matter of chance. It’s a matter of choice.”

We expect this vaccine to be more suited to the contexts in which it will be used, with fewer storage constraints and at a lower price,” said the WHO boss.

He was speaking during a visit to Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, which created Africa’s first mRNA COVID vaccine using Moderna’s sequence.

The vaccine will be ready for clinical trials in November, with approval expected in 2024.

Afrigen is in charge of the pilot project, which is supported by the WHO and the COVAX initiative. Tedros also urged African nations to support efforts to establish an African medicines regulator.

He stated that continental institutions, such as the proposed African Medicines Agency, were important because they could reduce costs and aid in the fight against counterfeit or low-quality drugs.

Tedros’ remarks came a day after the WHO’s Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, stated that the continent has exited the pandemic phase of the COVID-19 outbreak.

With a more optimistic outlook, she stated that Africa is on its way to managing the virus in the long run.

The pandemic is entering a new phase… “We believe we’re moving into a kind of endemic living with the virus right now, especially with vaccination expected to increase,” Moeti said at a press conference.

Only 11% of Africans are immunized, the lowest rate in the world. The WHO’s Africa office stated last week that the continent’s vaccination rate must be increased “six times” to reach the 70% target.

According to the World Bank, the pandemic has pushed up to 40 million Africans into extreme poverty, and each month of delay in lifting containment measures is estimated to cost Africa US$13.8 billion in lost GDP, according to Moeti.

Moeti, like Tedros, stated that the continent must maintain political will and support for local production of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, and diagnostic tools.

Since the start of the pandemic, Africa has seen over 11 million coronavirus cases and over 243,000 deaths. According to data published by the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10 million people have recovered so far.

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