WHO: 9 in 10 African nations set to miss urgent COVID-19 vaccination goal

June 11, 2021
A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccination to a patient at a health centre in Kabale, Uganda. — Courtesy photo
A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccination to a patient at a health centre in Kabale, Uganda. — Courtesy photo

GENEVA — Nine in 10 African nations look set to miss the September target of vaccinating 10 percent of their populations against COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Thursday.

At 32 million doses, Africa accounts for less than one percent of the more than 2.1 billion doses administered globally. Just two percent of the continent’s nearly 1.3 billion people have received one dose, and only 9.4 million Africans are fully vaccinated.

‘Do or die’ for doses

“It’s do or die on dose sharing for Africa,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

The WHO’s reminder that 225 million doses of vaccine are needed urgently on the continent comes as coronavirus infections increased there for the third consecutive week.

Africa’s 54 countries have registered nearly five million COVID-19 infections to date and numbers increased by nearly 20 percent — to more than 88 000 — in the week ending June 6.

Third wave looms

“As we close in on five million cases and the third wave in Africa looms, many of our most vulnerable people remain dangerously exposed to COVID-19”, warned Dr. Moeti.

“Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can, must urgently share COVID-19 vaccines.”

According to WHO’s latest situation update, the pandemic “is trending upward in 10 African countries”. Four nations have seen a 30 percent increase in cases in the past seven days, compared with the previous week.

Most of the new cases were in Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia and over half were in nine southern African countries.

Vaccines have become “increasingly scarce,” the UN health agency said, adding that at the current rate of delivery, only seven African nations will meet the goal of immunizing one in 10 people by September.

European contrast

The development came as the WHO announced on Thursday that for the first time in Europe since last August, deaths from COVID-19 had fallen below 10,000 in a week.

In a regular update, the UN health agency noted that cases, hospitalizations and deaths have decreased in the region for two consecutive months.

A total of 368,000 new cases were reported in the last seven days, which is a fifth of the weekly cases reported during Europe’s recent peak in April this year, said Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe.

He noted that the European Region had seen 55 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1.2 million deaths, which is around a third of the global caseload.

June 11, 2021
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