AFRICA – The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has announced that country-based research finds that scale-up speed with a focus on at-risk populations and the choice of COVID-19 vaccine brands are critical to structuring successful vaccination programs.
The Africa CDC oversaw the analysis conducted by local research groups such as the Kenya Medical Research Institute – Wellcome Trust, University of Nigeria, Ethiopian Public Health Institute and the University of Warwick contributing to the country-specific case studies.
The specialized technical institution of the African Union also managed regional analysis prepared by international research groups including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with inputs from the Center for Global Development and the international Decision Support Initiative (iDSI).
The new 27-country analysis on the health and economic impact of COVID-19 vaccination stated that earlier start dates and rapid scale-up delivered greater health benefits in terms of hospitalizations and deaths averted as compared to programs that started later and scaled more slowly.
“The benefits of COVID-19 vaccines vary widely depending on the pace of roll-out, the population targeted and the type of vaccines used in the campaigns,” reports the Africa CDC.
The analysis further highlighted that vaccine programs deliver the best value for money when focused on the most vulnerable including the elderly, pregnant women, health workers and those with comorbidities especially in countries with a low overall risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.
“Researchers in Kenya found that scaling up to 30% of the population but focusing on the elderly was far more effective than reaching 70% coverage of the general population while Nigerian researchers found the same result when modelling targeted scale-up to 25% of the population,” the analysis unveiled.
Meanwhile, South African researchers disclosed that a 40% vaccine coverage achieved through a fast roll-out was found to provide greater health benefits over a year than 67% coverage attained slowly.
“COVID-19 vaccine efforts become less cost-effective or not cost-effective at all the longer the country takes to scale their program. Also moving with urgency and scaling-up quickly is critical for countries where large numbers of the population remain unvaccinated,” the study further revealed.
Subsequently, Deputy Director of the Africa CDC Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma has urged countries to prioritize vaccinating those most at risk with the most cost-effective vaccines available to save the most lives while delivering the highest value for money.
He advised countries that choosing the least expensive vaccine options especially in the case of budgetary limitations is a pragmatic way to improve the cost-effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine programs.
Moreover, African countries can deliver greater health benefits to their citizens by investing in other more cost-effective health programs including the cost of the vaccines themselves and associated delivery costs for campaigns.