Africa Administers 1.5% of Global Vaccination—WHO
By Adedapo Adesanya
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that so far, Africa has administered just over 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines which are about 1.5 per cent of the doses given worldwide.
This was disclosed by the head of the organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday at a meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union on access to vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic for the African continent.
He noted that, “And this is tragic. In the past two weeks, we are seeing some progress, with a good number of countries committing to share and equitable distribution of vaccines, but vaccine nationalism still holds us back.”
The WHO boss stated that the organization was working to bring immediate solutions for equitable distribution of the vaccine doses.
“At the same time, we cannot let down our guard. What is happening now in many other parts of the world can also happen in Africa,” he said.
According to him, the pandemic has shown that Africa cannot rely solely on imports of vaccines from the rest of the world.
“We must build that capacity, not only for COVID-19 vaccines but for other vaccines and medical products.
“But at the same time we have to focus on the immediate solution of vaccine sharing, as I said earlier, ” he added.
The African continent has recorded over 4.7 million COVID-19 cases with more than 4.2 recoveries and 126,000 deaths, according to the WHO tally.
WHO Africa Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti had also said that COVID-19 vaccine shipment to Africa slowed down due to the “reliance on India as one of the key global manufacturers and a devastating surge of infections” in the country.
According to the WHO, the African continent was expecting 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses through the COVAX facility from February to May, but instead, it has so far received only 18.2 million doses.
At least 20 million doses of COVISHIELD — the name for the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India — are needed for second shots by the end of June, with 5 million doses needed by July, according to the world health body.
WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts are expected to issue guidance on mixing different types of vaccines amid supply constraints but they are also considering how long the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be delayed.
India’s COVID-19 advisory group has said the gap between COVISHIELD doses can be extended up to 16 weeks.
Though some African leaders have worried about how they will secure second doses for their populations given the situation in India, WHO has repeatedly advised countries to use up their stock of COVAX vaccines as first doses on as many people as possible, rather than saving half of them for second doses.
More than 1.63 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, equal to 21 doses for every 100 people.