83% of Africans Yet to Receive Any COVID-19 Vaccine—WHO
By Adedapo Adesanya
One year since the World Health Organization’s COVAX global vaccine programme made its first delivery in Africa, 83 per cent of the continent’s population is yet to receive a single dose of the life-saving COVID-19 jabs.
This was disclosed by the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who added that vaccine nationalism and manufacturers prioritizing high-income countries severely limited the number of vaccines COVAX was able to supply in the first half of last year.
“This is not only a moral failure, but it is also an epidemiological failure, which is creating the ideal conditions for new variants to emerge,” he said.
The situation has since improved, with some 1.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine delivered to date, and WHO says the supply outlook for this year is positive.
Dr Tedros said COVAX has now secured enough vaccines to achieve 45 per cent coverage across recipient countries by the middle of this year.
The global health body had set a December 2021 target for all countries to achieve 40 per cent full vaccination, but only seven countries in Africa succeeded in this.
The health agency says African countries can still hit the second target of vaccinating 70 per cent of their populations by mid-2022, owing to support from various sources, including AVAT, a component in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy that is endorsed by the African Union (AU).
“Achieving the 70 per cent target in all countries is essential for ending the pandemic as a global health emergency and driving a truly inclusive global recovery,” said Dr Tedros.
“It will also help prevent the emergence of new variants, which could be more severe or transmissible next time around,” he added.
As part of the COVID-19 response, other multilateral agencies like the World Bank is supporting Africa to strengthen health systems by strengthening public health preparedness, strengthening the roll-out of the campaign, and facilitating vaccine deployment and procurement of 3.5 million doses through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust chaired by the African Union, and in coordination with other partners.