Less than 1 percent of the population in Congo is fully vaccinated. So why is the entire Congo not dead from COVID even after such a long time.
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No large nation has suffered more with vaccine distribution than the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where fewer than 1% of the populace is fully immunized.
State of play: Vaccines are still unavailable in certain outlying regions of the central African country, but immunization rates are incredibly poor even in Kinshasa, the capital and home to 17 million people.
- According to Seth Berkley, CEO of the Gavi vaccine collaboration and focal person for the worldwide COVAX effort, availability is no longer a concern. COVAX is ready to transfer more dosages to DRC if and when the current supply is exhausted, he recently told Axios.
On the ground: “When we started in November, there was not much interest,” explains Freddy Nkosi, DRC director for VillageReach, an NGO that specializes on health care delivery in low-income nations.
- Nkosi said VillageReach has four immunization centers in Kinshasa that are ideally positioned near bus stations or marketplaces and are available seven days a week with no appointments required. Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac are among the companies providing vaccinations.
- Nkosi claims that interest has increased in the last two to three months as individuals have grown “more and more confident.”
- He goes on to say that “rumors” – that vaccinations had harmed individuals or contained components that would contradict religious traditions — had been the most difficult to overcome. Nkosi believes that some of the misinformation is brought from the West via social networks, while others are unique to the DRC.
Between the lines: When asked why the DRC’s vaccination rate is so low compared to other low-income nations facing comparable issues, Nkosi was unsure, but he did observe that a strike by health-care employees didn’t seem to help.
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- Strangely, the increase in immunization is occurring as dread of COVID subsides and life goes back to ordinary, according to Nkosi.
- Several others opted to come in after seeing that somebody they knew had been vaccinated. Others require vaccinations for job or travel.
The bottom line: “We are hoping to turn the tide,” Nkosi says. “We started at a snail’s pace, but I do have hope we can still catch up.”