THE head of Africa’s health agency has warned that the UK’s policy of not accepting Covid-19 vaccine certificates from the continent could increase vaccine hesitancy.
Dr. John Nkegasong, head of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said the UK’s stance was confusing and had far-reaching implications for vaccination campaigns.
“We do not understand why the UK has taken this position,” he told a virtual news briefing.
Many Africans are furious, and have called the policy discriminatory. Last week the UK government removed several countries from its so-called “red list”, from where travellers would need to quarantine if they visited England.
However, it said those who have had their vaccines in most countries outside the European Union and the United States would still need to quarantine because the UK would not accept the certificates. The other UK nations: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own health policies.
Dr. Nkegasong said some people in Africa would ask why they should take these vaccines if they were not recognised internationally. He also questioned why the UK has sent Africa vaccines it won’t recognize. He was quoted in the Reuters News as outlining the contradiction in that position.
“If you send us vaccines and we use those vaccines and you say you don’t recognise people that have been immunised with those vaccines… it sends a very challenging message for us.”
He said it was “a message that creates confusion within our population… creating more reticence, reluctance for people to receive vaccines”.
“This message doesn’t really speak to solidarity and co-operation that we all believe are the cornerstone and ingredients for us to emerge from this pandemic together,” he added
Dr. Richard Mihigo from the World Health Organisation’s Africa region saidys countries should now find a way of coming up with a mutual system that will recognise vaccine certificates by different countries.