At the end of 2021, the world has made significant progress in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies have not only developed some of the most effective vaccines against any disease, but have done so in record time, and the world is closing in on having administered 9 billion doses of a dozen different vaccines. That remarkable progress is counter-balanced by more than five million deaths from the disease around the world, with significant risk of new variants emerging from unvaccinated populations. The world will continue to grapple with COVID-19 until all regions have reached much higher vaccination rates, which will require much greater focus on increasing access to vaccines in Africa, where vaccination rates lag far behind the rest of the world.
This paper focuses on lessons learned for Africa. It is the continent with greatest need for more vaccines and for improved capacity in local health systems. Despite deficiencies in staffing and the availability of vaccines and related equipment, Africa has produced some uniquely successful health governance solutions that have important lessons for other regions. African governments are looking to build on successful innovations from this pandemic, including better use of digital facilities to reach isolated populations, as they continue to fight the current COVID-19 pandemic and increase their capacity to manufacture the vaccines and equipment they consume.