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Africa needs 820 million vaccine doses to vaccinate 30% of its population, says WHO

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Lara Adejoro

The World Health Orgsanisation says to fully vaccinate 30 per cent of Africa’s population by the end of 2021, the continent needs up to 820 million doses.

The organisation noted that so far, almost 79 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have arrived in Africa while 21 million people, or just 1.6 per cent of Africa’s population are fully vaccinated.

It, however, noted that high-income countries have given 61 times more doses per person than low-income countries.

WHO Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel on vaccine deliveries to Africa but it must not be snuffed out again. 

“I urge all countries with surplus doses to urgently share more in the spirit of life-saving solidarity and enlightened self-interest because no country is safe until all countries are safe. I urge African countries to gear up and get ready, as our drought is finally ending.”

The agency noted that Tanzania has kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination campaign after receiving the first delivery of around 1 million doses, a donation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the United States Government, through COVAX on 24 July. Tanzania joined COVAX on 15 June.  

“COVAX recently clinched new deals with Sinopharm and Sinovac to rapidly supply 110 million more doses to low-income countries. 

“COVAX and the World Bank are set to further boost the COVID-19 vaccine supply for developing countries through a new cost-sharing arrangement that allows low-income countries to purchase doses beyond the fully donor-subsidised doses they are already receiving from COVAX.   

“The rise in vaccine shipments comes as Africa sees its second week of falling case numbers after a steep and unbroken eight-week surge. Reported case numbers fell by 18 per cent from over 282,000 to 230,500 in the week ending on 25 July. 

“The decline was largely driven by South Africa, which accounts for 37 per cent of all reported cases, and Tunisia, which accounts for eight per cent,” the agency’s press statement read in part.

WHO noted that 22 African countries saw cases rise by over 20 per cent for at least two weeks running in the week to 25 July and reported that deaths rose in 17 African countries to nearly 6,300 on the continent in the same week. 

It added that the highly transmissible Delta variant has been found in 26 African countries, noting that the Alpha variant has been detected in 38 countries and Beta variant in 35. 

“Africa is still in the throes of a third wave. The limited slowdown in cases is heartening and cause for very cautious optimism, but we are far from out of the woods yet. We must all stay vigilant. One-third of all African countries are still living through a dangerous resurgence and we must stick with the prevention measures that we know save lives, like mask-wearing, good hand hygiene, and physical distancing,” Moeti said. 

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