Liberia Gets ‘Green Light’ to Procure COVID-19 Vaccine

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Headquaters of the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Congo Town

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health (MOH) and its Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) has disclosed that Liberia has applied for the COVID-19 vaccine. Making the disclosure on Tuesday 19, 2011, MOH Communications Director Felecia Gbesioh told the Daily Observer via mobile phone that following the submission of the Ministry’s application Liberia was granted the go-ahead.  

She, however, did not state when will the vaccine arrive in the country, but clarified that application for the new vaccine has left the country and, as such, rollout plans cannot be discussed since “we don’t have vaccines in the country.”

According to the latest COVID-19 situation report from the NPHIL, Liberia has recorded a total of 1,898 cases since March 15, 2020. Of that number, 1,707 have recovered, with 84 deaths. Currently, there are 107 active cases of the Coronavirus in the country.

Though the low number of active cases recorded by Liberia indicates that the nation’s health authorities might be doing well with the anti-COVID effort in the country, health authorities maintain that they are not complacent.

According to Madam Gbesioh, “the country needs those vaccines now because the [active] COVID-19 cases have increased up to 100, with Montserrado County being a hot spot.”

She also disclosed that there are a number of vaccines available for procurement right now, with two coming from the United States of America, one from the United Kingdom, while another one from Europe.

“I was told by the EPI Boss that there are plans to have an immediate press briefing in order for the technicians to spearhead the dissemination of the delicate information,” Madam Gbesioh said, “to have a complete avoidance as the issue of vaccines are delicate and must be coordinated by the technicians.” 

This revelation for Liberia follows the announcement by the African Union (AU) Chairperson, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, on January 14, that the AU has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for Africa through its COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), on behalf of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), and which commences the COVID-19 vaccines pre-order program for all African Union Member States.

According to the AU release, Afreximbank will facilitate payments by providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of the Member States.

AU said in order to support vaccination operations, the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) (www.AMSP.africa) has also launched a new category on vaccine accessories which will help the Member States to procure products such as ultra-low temperature freezers, personal protection equipment, cotton wool rolls, syringes and needles.

The AU release also noted that the biggest challenges to COVID-19 vaccine access in Africa have been the financing of the vaccines and the logistics of vaccinating at scale, but with this latest news, the gap will be filled by the Afreximbank financing facility.

“The critical decision now is how to get started so that once we start there will be no disruptions and this is where AMSP will play a very big role,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

“These are historical times. For the first time in history, Africa has secured access to millions of vaccine doses in the middle of a pandemic as most of the Western countries,” said African Union Special Envoy Strive Masiyiwa. “There is still a huge shortage of vaccine doses and that is why this continental collaboration has designed a fair allocation coupled with timely and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines across the continent.” 

Afreximbank is proud to expand its support to African economies in their bid to contain the pandemic. Our vaccine financing facility builds on the success of our Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) to open access to COVID 19 vaccines to African states based on a whole-of-Africa approach favoured by the African Union”, said Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

“By providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to candidate vaccine manufacturers, Afreximbank will ensure that African States are able to rapidly access COVID-19 vaccines, at competitive prices and in a timely manner, thereby contributing to saving lives and livelihoods”, he added.

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