The African Union says the unfortunate UK does not recognize vaccines given in Africa

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John Nkengasong, Director of the African Union Centers for Disease Control, during a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

By Aynat Mercy and George Obulutsa

NAIROBI (Reuters) – The African Union’s chief health official called it unfortunate that the United Kingdom had not recognized coronavirus vaccines administered in Africa, saying on Thursday the situation sent a confusing message to public health.

Last week, England announced that it would expand the list of countries recognizing its vaccines, adding 17 to the initial grouping with the United States and Europe. None of these countries are in Africa. The British government is setting up coronavirus guidelines in England, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have set their own.

We regret that the UK is taking this position. “We are asking them to re-evaluate this, as it is not in line with the true spirit of solidarity and cooperation,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If… you send us the vaccines and we use these vaccines and you say you don’t recognize the people who have been immunized with these vaccines… that sends us a very disturbing message.”

The British High Commission in Kenya said, on Tuesday, in a joint statement with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, that establishing a system to recognize vaccine certificates for international travel takes time.

Richard Mihijo, a WHO official, echoed the statement, saying the issue was primarily about testimony.

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