AFRICA – Just five African countries, less than 10% of Africa’s 54 nations, are projected to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of their people, unless efforts to accelerate the pace take off.
This comes as the Region grapples to meet rising demand for essential vaccination commodities, such as syringes.
Three African countries, 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. At the current pace just two more countries, Tunisia and Cabo Verde, will also hit the target.
In addition, limited access to crucial commodities such as syringes may slow the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.
UNICEF has reported an imminent shortfall of up to 2.2 billion auto-disable syringes for COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization in 2022. This includes 0.3ml auto-disposable syringes for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination.
There is no global stockpile of the 0.3ml specialized syringes, which differ from the 0.5ml syringes used for other types of COVID-19 vaccines and routine vaccination.
The market for 0.3ml auto-disable syringes is tight and extremely competitive. As such, these are in short supply and will remain so through at least the first quarter of next year.
Already 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. Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast. Countless African lives depend on it,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.
Meanwhile, only six per cent of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom has said, urging countries that have pledged to donate vaccines to fulfil those pledges urgently.
Speaking at the meeting of G20 Health and Finance Ministers in Rome, Dr Tedros said noted that 36 percent of the world’s population is now fully vaccinated.
He however added that the world needs 550 million more vaccine doses if it is to achieve the target of vaccinating at least 40 per cent of the global population by the end of 2021.
Africa’s Covid-19 cases have surpassed the 8.48 million mark as the continent continues its efforts against the virus.
According to the latest data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 8,487,743 cases have been confirmed on the continent from 76,590,708 tests conducted since the onset of the pandemic.
The number of virus-related fatalities currently stands at 218,001. Africa has, however, also registered 7,886,467 successful recoveries.
South Africa remains to be the hardest-hit by the pandemic, having recorded 2,921,114 infections with 89,104 fatalities.
Morocco, with 945,504 infections, has the second-highest national caseload in Africa, while Tunisia’s 25,227 deaths are the second-highest national death toll recorded on the continent.
Ten countries on the continent, including South Africa and Morocco, have reported more than 200,000 cases.