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Leaders from AFRICOM, Air Force, CDC discuss COVID response

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Quentin Denzel Foley (left), a preventive medicine technician with the Expeditionary Medical Unit  assigned to Camp Lemonnier and Sgt. 1st Class Bob Godes (right), the surgeon cell senior enlisted leader with Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), prepare syringes the COVID vaccine at Camp Simba, Kenya, March 18. Photo by Taylor Davis/U.S. Air Force
U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Quentin Denzel Foley (left), a preventive medicine technician with the Expeditionary Medical Unit  assigned to Camp Lemonnier and Sgt. 1st Class Bob Godes (right), the surgeon cell senior enlisted leader with Combined Joint Task Force- Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), prepare syringes the COVID vaccine at Camp Simba, Kenya, March 18. Photo by Taylor Davis/U.S. Air Force

April 20 (UPI) -- The African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance wrapped its 10th annual conference last week.

Leaders from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa and the Centers for Disease Control attended the virtual event, which was focused on global Rapid Response teams and the importance of collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"Rapid response training is a great alignment for our emergency capabilities," U.S. Army Col. Jonathan Taylor, command surgeon, U.S. Africa Command, said in a press release issued by the Air Force Tuesday. "Infectious disease knows no borders, and this past year has reminded us all of that fact."

Rapid response teams are made up of interdisciplinary medical professionals who can deploy in states of emergency or nonemergency.

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Speakers discussed all aspects of RRTs, from planning to application, and discussed their experience responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants also collaborated on potential emergency response strategies to implement in the future -- and because the platform was virtual, discussions could be translated into English, French and Portugese in real time.

"The time you've given is essential," Brig. Gen. D. N'Dri Athanase Yao, APORA president and Cote d'Ivoire surgeon general, said in the Air Force release. "When we participate in this training, we know that we have not lost our time because this training is crucial. This training is a success."

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The first APORA conference was held in 2014 in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The next key leader engagement will take place in August 2021.

According to the Air Force, 30 African nations had at least one COVID-19 vaccine available to citizens before the first virtual session at the end of March.

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The BBC reported this week that 36 African countries had received vaccine doses through the World Health Organization's COVAX initiative, a global effort to send vaccine doses to developing countries.

As of April 8, the COVAX facility had delivered almost 40 million vaccine doses across six continents, supplied by AstraZeneca, the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership and the Serum Institute of India.

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