AFRICA-CDC: No cause for worry over two variants

Africa Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC) Director Dr. John Nkengasong has said that there should be no worry over the discovery of two Coronavirus variants in Kenya.

Speaking on the weekly brief on the COVID-19 situation on the continent, Dr. Nkengasong said by discovering just a few variants from travellers should not be a cause for worry and instead urged Kenya to invest in more resources to be able to track the variants to see if there is a general spread of the variants in the community.

“The genomic sequencing ought to be continuous to see if the variant is predominant,” said Dr. Nkengasong, adding that no new variants have been reported on the continent except for B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 that have already been reported.

Nkengasong said that 16 countries have reported the presence of B.1.1.7 including Kenya and noted that Kenya is among two other countries on the continent, South Africa and Nigeria, that are making good progressing in fighting to bring down the incidence in COVID-19.

Dr. Nkengasong warned that the continent should now brace for the third wave even after going through the first two waves but expressed worry that India and the European Union are planning to halt COVID-19 vaccine exports at a time when the continent needs the vaccines most.

“I urge them to prod their consciousness, as humanity we should rise above this and call on our moral consciousness otherwise we will be in this battle for a long time,” he said adding that he is helpless in the face of a threat to withhold the vaccine exports.

Dr. Nkengasong called on African states to work through the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) by taking advantage of the economies of scale instead of going it alone. He noted that AVATT is complementing efforts by the COVAX facility.

He said Africa CDC is in discussion to finalize agreements with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to aquire more vaccine doses through AVATT adding that Sputnik is still under scrutiny by Africa CDC and has not been approved yet.

He urged people on the continent to maintain high levels of hygiene by washing hands with soap and water as part of the prevention measures.

He urged for adherence to health protocols like keeping social and physical distancing as well as using sanitizers as part of the prevention measures even as the continent works towards getting more vaccines available for vaccination.

Africa has recorded 4.1 million cases of COVID-19 accounting for 3.4% of all cases reported globally with total recoveries of 3.7 million and 110,000 deaths which accounts for 4% of the cases reported globally.

The Africa CDC says the East Africa region continues to have the highest proportion of new cases at 33%, Northern region 26%, Southern region 23%, Western region 14% and the Central region 3%.

In the past week, the highest number of new cases were reported in Ethiopia with 11,898, South Africa 8,432, Kenya 7,674, Libya 6,430 and Egypt 4,494.


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