Less than 10 percent of African countries to hit key COVID-19 vaccination goal – WHO

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Photo taken on May 20, 2021 shows the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Xinhua/Chen Junxia)
Photo taken on May 20, 2021 shows the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Xinhua/Chen Junxia)

Just five African countries, less than 10 percent of Africa’s 54 nations, are projected to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40 percent of their people, said the World Health Organization (WHO) Thursday.

Three African countries, including Seychelles, Mauritius and Morocco, have already met the goal that was set in May by the World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy-setting body, said WHO’s regional office for Africa, based in the Congolese capital Brazzaville, adding that Tunisia and Cape Verde will also hit the target.

Limited access to crucial commodities such as syringes may slow the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, warned the WHO, noting that some African countries, such as Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, have experienced delays in receiving syringes.

“The looming threat of a vaccine commodities crisis hangs over the continent. Early next year COVID-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

The COVAX Facility is working to address this threat by securing deals with syringe manufacturers, and through better planning to avoid deliveries outpacing the supply of syringes, Moeti said.

At the current pace, Africa still faces a 275 million shortfall of COVID-19 vaccines against the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40 percent of its people.

Africa has fully vaccinated 77 million people, just 6 percent of its population, while over 70 percent of high-income countries have already vaccinated more than 40 percent of their people.

With nearly 8.5 million COVID-19 cases and more than 217,000 deaths recorded in Africa, 10 African countries are still in resurgence, including four with upward trend or high plateau, such as Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, and Egypt, according to the WHO. Enditem

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