Africa has received less than 2% of the 690 million COVID-19 vaccines distributed worldwide so far.
“Although progress is being made, many African countries have barely moved beyond the starting line,’’ Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement issued in Nairobi late on Thursday.
In the face of threats raised by the third wave of infections, Moeti believes that insufficient access to vaccines may derail efforts to control the pandemic on the continent.
“Limited stocks and supply bottlenecks are putting COVID-19 vaccines out of reach of many people in this region.
“Fair access to vaccines must be a reality if we are to collectively make a dent on this pandemic,’’ she added
According to WHO statistics, 45 African countries have received the COVID-19 vaccine, 43 have started immunizing high-risk populations, and about 13 million of the 31.6 million doses delivered have been administered.
According to Moeti, vaccine distribution on the continent has been uneven, as only ten countries have received 93% of the doses, and logistical and staff issues are jeopardizing mass vaccination against the coronavirus.
“Africa is already playing COVID-19 vaccination catch-up and the gap is widening.
“While we acknowledge the immense burden, placed by the global demand for vaccines, inequity can only worsen scarcity,’’ said Moeti.
“More than a billion Africans remain on the margins of this historic march to overcome the pandemic.’’
Africa, on the other hand, could still be able to vaccinate at least 20% of its population by the end of this year if governments prioritize targeted programs such as health worker preparation, cold chain infrastructure improvements, and public awareness.
Morocco has emerged as the continent’s pioneer in COVID-19 vaccination, according to the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The country has given out four million doses, covering about 11% of the population.
Only the Seychelles and Mauritius have enough vaccine doses to meet the 20% vaccination target.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN