Cameroon will receive 5,752,000 extra doses of Covid-19 vaccines, after the 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine donated by China, Minister of Public Health (Minsanté) Manaouda Malachie announced Wednesday, April 14, 2021. The first batches of the vaccines financed by the COVAX scheme, which aims to ensure developing countries get access to COVID-19 vaccines, will arrive this month. "Our country will receive 1,752,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of May 2021. The first batch of 391,200 doses is scheduled to arrive on April 17, 2021," the Minsanté said.
Cameroon had previously suspended the use of the Swedish-British vaccine as a precautionary measure because of its potential side effects.
However, the country resumed the supply process on the recommendation of the Scientific Council for Public Health Emergencies (SCPHE) and the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG).
"Like any medication, the vaccine can cause side effects like fever, asthenia, headaches, dizziness, or redness at the injection site with some people. But those cases are rare. Those effects usually fade away within few days," said Dr. Brice Edzoa, coordinator of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) for the Central Region. According to the Minsanté, thanks to the COVAX facility, Cameroon will receive sufficient doses of vaccine to cover up to 20% of its population considered at risk.
Johnson & Johnson
Besides the COVAX initiative, several other opportunities have been explored for vaccine procurement. These include bilateral agreements with partner countries that manufacture vaccines and sub-regional and regional initiatives, we learn. "An order for 4,000,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine was concluded on April 7, 2021, between the government and the African Union via CDC Africa," said Manaouda Malachie.
Cameroon launched its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on April 12 with doses of the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm. The country expects to accelerate the campaign with the AstraZeneca doses scheduled to arrive on Saturday, as the country is about to reach the milestone of 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
According to the National Deployment and Immunization Plan, the priority targets are health personnel, including administrative and support staff, as well as community health workers (CHWs). They also include people over 50, those with comorbidities, and security forces.
According to the Minsanté, the vaccines will be inoculated voluntarily. "This first phase aims to reduce the pressure of this pandemic on the health system by protecting health workers, stopping the severe forms of the virus, and reducing the number of deaths to limit the excessive solicitation of the health service," explained the Minsanté.
For the government, vaccination appears to be the best solution to control the pandemic, or even end it, as the country is experiencing a surge of infections since December 2020.
Officially, Cameroon has recorded 61,731 confirmed cases since the outbreak began on March 6, 2020. "Vaccines are widely considered to be the most essential and consistent response to preserve the lives of the population. This is why, awhile back, the government took the necessary steps to obtain vaccines and allowed access to Cameroonians who wish to benefit from it," the Minister of Communication (Mincom) Rene Emmanuel Sadi said.
The official was speaking on April 14 in Yaoundé, during a joint press conference with his peer of the Ministry of Public Health. According to Mincom, the decision to vaccinate the population against this disease is based on "the assurances of the national scientific community concerning the reliability of these vaccines."
Several health specialists agree, however, that being vaccinated does not protect against infection, because the vaccine simply helps strengthen the immune system and prevents the development of severe forms of the disease. They, therefore, recommend further implementation of the strict safety measures enacted to fight the pandemic.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem