Share this article:
Cape Town – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday sounded the alarm over Africa’s slow Covid-19 vaccination roll-out.
The WHO said 42 of Africa’s 54 nations, or nearly 80%, were set to miss the urgent global goal of vaccinating the most vulnerable 10% of every country’s population by the end of September.
Only nine African countries, including South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia, have reached the global target set in May by the World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy-setting body.
At the current pace, three more African countries were set to meet the target and two more could meet it if they sped up vaccinations, said the WHO.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said that with less than a month to go, this looming goal must focus minds in Africa and globally.
Moeti added that vaccine hoarding had held Africa back and the continent urgently needed more vaccines.
However, as more doses arrive, African countries must have in place precise plans to rapidly vaccinate the millions of people who still face a grave threat from Covid-19, she said.
According to reports, almost 21 million Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Africa via the Covax facility in August, an amount equal to the previous four months combined.
The WHO said that with more vaccines expected from Covax and the African Union by the end of September, they could see enough doses delivered to meet the 10% target.
The latest data by the WHO shows that more than 143 million doses have been received in Africa in total, while 39 million people, around 3% of Africa’s population, are fully vaccinated.
In comparison, 52% of people are fully vaccinated in the United States and 57% in the European Union.
“The inequity is deeply disturbing. Just 2% of the over five billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa. Yet recent rises in vaccine shipments and commitments shows that a fairer, more just global distribution of vaccines looks possible,” said Moeti.
The WHO said Covid-19 cases were declining slightly in Africa but remained high.
A rising number of new cases in Central, East and West Africa had pushed case numbers up to nearly 215,000 in the week ending August 29.
The health authority said that 25 African countries, or more than 45%, were reporting high or fast-rising case numbers. Over 5,500 deaths were reported in the week ending August 29.
The highly transmissible Delta variant has been found in 31 African countries. The Alpha variant has been detected in 44 countries and the Beta variant in 39.
Furthermore, the C.1.2 variant has been identified in 114 cases in South Africa.
Single cases have been found in four other African countries, and very low case numbers have been reported internationally.
First reported to the WHO in July, the prevalence of this new variant remained very low, said Moeti.
To be identified as a variant of concern, there must be evidence of an impact on transmissibility, severity or immunity. This was not the case for the C.1.2 variant, yet more data was required, said Moeti.
African News Agency (ANA)