General

More COVID-19 vaccines needed in Africa

At least 80% of African countries are expected to miss the global target of vaccinating at least 10% of their populations against COVID-19 by the end of September.

This was revealed by World Health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

She was speaking during a press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine rollout on the continent on Thursday.

“Although Africa’s third wave peaked in July, the decline in new cases is at a glacial pace — far slower than in previous waves. The pandemic is still raging in Africa and we must not let our guard down. Every hour, 26 Africans die of COVID-19. As long as vaccination rates are low, severe illness and death risk are staying high,” she said.

According to Moeti, only nine of Africa’s 54 countries have already met the 10% target, including South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia.

“[T]hese countries are in the upper middle or high income brackets and have procured vaccines directly from manufacturers as well as receiving various vaccine supplies. For lower income countries that are receiving mainly vaccine donations, the situation is more dire (sic),” she said.

Dr Moeti told the briefing that less than 3% of Africa’s entire population have been fully vaccinated as opposed to Europe and the United States’ 50%.

She said this is due to vaccine inequality.

“Vaccine hoarding has held Africa back and we urgently need more vaccines, but as more doses arrive, African countries must zero in and drive forward precise plans to rapidly vaccinate the millions of people that still face a grave threat from COVID-19.

“Equally concerning is a continuing inequity in the distribution of doses. Africa counts for just 2% over the over five billion doses given globally. This percentage…hasn’t shifted in months. It is encouraging though that in the past month over 21 million doses have arrived on the continent through COVAX, that’s equal to the entire four previous months,” Dr Moeti said.

Source: South African Government News Agency