African countries must increase monthly COVID-19 vaccine shipment from the current 20 million to 150 million doses in order to inoculate 70 percent of the population by September 2022, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Thursday.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa said in a statement that the continent’s ability to immunize a critical mass of the population against COVID-19 hinges on increasing vaccine imports by seven times.
Moeti urged international solidarity to unlock vaccine shipments to Africa, expand immunization coverage against high risk groups, avert emergence of variants and hasten return to normalcy.
Statistics from Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) indicates that 136.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in the continent as of Wednesday, while 4.06 percent of the population is fully immunized.
Moeti said that a recent 25 percent cutback on COVID-19 vaccines stockpile slated for delivery to Africa under the COVAX facility has derailed the quest for mass inoculation in the continent amid spread of highly contagious variants.
She stressed the need for African countries to ramp up vaccine readiness through setting up adequate cold chain facilities, training of health workers and public campaigns to fight hesitancy.
Richard Mihigo, coordinator, immunization and vaccines development, WHO Regional Office for Africa said that ramped up vaccine deliveries to the continent through different platforms is key to expand coverage of fully immunized population and hasten reopening of economies. Enditem