COVID-19 vaccines in Africa: we've got the data!
December 3, 2021
When rumours of a novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan first surfaced at the end of 2019, it was unclear what impact this would have on people, health systems, and economies worldwide. After almost two years of living through a pandemic, the answer to overcoming this virus is clear: vaccinations!

The understanding that new vaccines are being developed, tested, approved, and ultimately administered at any one time leaves a never-ending story for journalists to keep up with. That’s why we’ve developed this easy-to-use tool that shows not only the latest data for numbers of jabs in arms (people vaccinated) but also the types and sources of those vaccines per country. Our Vaccine Tracker is updated daily using data from Our World in Data by Media Hack Collective for the Africa Data Hub and is available in both a map and chart view for easy cross-country comparisons.

Why an African vaccine tracker?

There are a few reasons why we decided to create an African-centred vaccine portal:

  • The ADH vaccine tracker enables comparisons of vaccination data within Africa - rather than between Africa and the rest of the world, which is not necessarily appropriate. The context and capacity of African countries to access COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and treatments vary vastly compared to other countries and it is therefore even more relative to compare between African countries than between countries on other continents. 
  • It facilitates more African centred coverage.
  • It allows for intra-continental comparisons which can be more accurate than comparing to other countries on other continent.
  • Because of our data process, we ensure that data is collected fair more quickly than bigger data groups. 

Also, data on various health-related issues are often either not collected systematically or shared openly by country-level health authorities.

The data challenges mean that journalists looking to get their hands on the most up-to-date data on COVID-19 vaccinations, therefore often have to rely on international data groups for their analysis and stories. The caveat here is that this data can be several days out of date when it’s made available to the public because of the time lags between data collection, collation and ultimately publication. As ADH, we attempt to streamline this process as much as possible.

We offer the most up-to-date data on vaccinations in Africa possible by drawing from numerous sources including Our World in Data (OWID), which is then supplemented with daily news reports compiled by Media Hack Collective (MHC).

This data sourcing method means that, to our knowledge, our Vaccine Tracker is one of the most relevant and accurate reflections of the state of vaccinations in Africa.

Laura Grant, Data Journalist at MHC, who leads the collection and analysis of this data for ADH, highlights this: “We looked at vaccine trackers globally, for example, Bloomberg, New York Times vaccine trackers. We decided to implement an African vaccine tracker to focus on the African narrative. We wanted to answer these and other questions; which countries are doing well with vaccine rollout and which countries are not.”

Updated daily, the vaccine tracker and leader board show where, how many and which vaccines are being administered across the African continent.

A breakdown of the data available on our Vaccine Tracker

The Vaccine Tracker provides data on the types of vaccines currently in use in each African country or which vaccines have been approved for use. All data must be credited to Media Hack Collective and Africa Data Hub, with the exception of the Our World in Data - COVID-19 Vaccinations data which must be credited to Our World in Data.

Overview of Vaccinations in country of interest

In the first data visualisation, you can find high-level data for the selected African country. The Kenyan example below shows the population size, total vaccinations administered, total vaccines received, and total vaccinations per 100 people. This data provides journalists with an overview of the status of vaccinations in their country of interest.

Sources of Vaccines

You can find data for the sources of vaccines for the selected African country in the second data visualisation. Procurement data - whether the vaccines were purchased, donated or received via Covax etc. - provides insights for stories about following the money. For example, How much money has been spent on vaccines. The vaccine tracker also shows vaccines donated via Covax, stimulating stories about political pressure on developed countries to contribute more vaccines to ensure mass immunisations and the cessation of human and economic suffering caused by the prolonging of the pandemic. 

Types of vaccinations

In the third data visualisation, Vaccine Types, journalists can find data about the types of vaccines used within that country. As there is currently a suite of potential vaccines available, each with its constraints (cold storage, multiple doses required etc.) and benefits (some are more effective than others with different strains). Therefore, it’s helpful for journalists to see at a glance which vaccines are currently being used in their country of interest and which have been approved for use (emergency, limited, or complete approval in each African country). Furthermore, having data on the volumes of each vaccine opens up interesting story angles about geopolitical relationships and choices that governments have made.

Each of the above data visualisations can be downloaded by clicking on the download button below the visualisation and saving the image to their computer. This image can then be uploaded into their story. Alternatively, journalists can embed the data visualisation into their story by clicking on the embed button and copy and pasting the embed code into their document. Saving the images enables journalists to both use the data visualisation in their stories, and also, enables further analysis.

Do you want a version of the Vaccine Tracker dashboard on your site?

Our data visualisations and copy are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and freely available for use and embedding in others’ work. Journalists are invited to embed the map in their news stories, or embed the popular vaccine widget on their website showing total vaccinations for the selected country over time. We also offer customised versions of the tool that include newsroom branding and preferred colour schemes. If this is something of interest, please reach out on Users are encouraged to explore the data, download the resources, leave feedback, and contact us for more information.

Who and where are stories being published using this vaccine tracker?

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