By Ahmed Rahma With over one billion population, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said Africa will need at least $9 billion to procure COVID-19 vaccines. This disclosure was made at the WHO Africa online press briefing held on Thursday. The event focused on ramping up preparedness for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in Africa. According to to the Immunisation and Vaccines Development Programme Coordinator of WHO, Dr Richard Mihigo, it is not just about the cost of the vaccine but the cost of delivering them and ensuring that they get to the right location, noting that there were no guarantees that there would be enough supplies before the end of 2021. In his response to a question, he said, \u201cWe will definitely need to vaccinate between 60 to 70 per cent of the African population." \u201cSo, if you consider that, we have about 1.2 to 1.3 billion people on the African continent and you take 60 per cent of that with the assumption that you will need maybe two doses per population, we are talking about close to 1.3 to 1.4 billion vaccine doses that will be needed to immunise 60 per cent of the people in Africa to reach a herd immunity,\u201d he said further. \u201cIf we compute that number with the preliminary information that we are getting with these vaccine manufacturers because it is not only the cost of the vaccines. There are also additional costs that are needed to deliver those vaccines,\u201d he added. \u201cWe know very well that the preliminary rough estimation that is being done, we may need up to $9 billion. So, this is a lot of money, a lot of funding that will be needed. "First of all, we are not sure that we are going to get enough supply to immunise everybody by the end of 2021. This may spill over to the year after but also to mobilise such an amount of money, I think it will be an additional challenge,\u201d he noted. According to him, the COVAX facility, which is a Gavi-coordinated pooled procurement mechanism for developing COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring fair and equitable access, would make 20 per cent of the vaccines available. He revealed that there are discussions ongoing with the African Union to work with other multilateral or development banks like the World Bank, Afrexim Bank to mobilise resources. \u201cDepending on how much vaccines we need, starting by the COVAX facility alone, I think there is an ambition to reach at least 20 per cent but as I said before there are a lot of discussions going on if we really need to reach a herd immunity that will help people to go back to some sort of normal life,\u201d the official said.