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CAPE TOWN – Only seven African countries are set to meet their September target of vaccinating 10% of their citizens.
So far, Africa accounts for under 1% of the over 2.1 billion doses administered globally. Just 2% of the continent’s nearly 1.3 billion people have received one dose and only 9.4 million Africans are fully vaccinated.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said with the increasingly scarce vaccines, the continent was also experiencing an increase of Covid-19 positive cases.
Moeti said: “The pandemic is trending upwards in 10 African countries, with four nations recording a spike in new cases of over 30% in the past seven days, compared with the previous week. 72% of all new cases were reported in Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia and over half were recorded in nine southern African countries.”
“As we close in on five million cases and a third wave in Africa looms, many of our most vulnerable people remain dangerously exposed to Covid-19. Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can, must urgently share Covid-19 vaccines. It’s do or die on dose sharing for Africa,” she said.
Most countries on the continent have been receiving the vaccine doses under the Covax scheme, and these had largely been sourced from the Serum Institute of India, which has since halted vaccine exports in response to its own urgent needs.
The Covax programme, backed by the WHO and other multilateral bodies, aims to supply 600 million doses to Africa, enough to vaccinate at least 20% of the population.
The WHO says Africa needs 200 million doses of vaccines to vaccinate 10% of its population by September.
However, Moeti said the tide was starting to turn as more wealthy nations are beginning to turn promises into action.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced that the US will purchase and donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union is an important step forward.