AFRICA – The World Health Organization (WHO) is deeply concerned that African countries are lagging behind the rest of the world in the effort to vaccinate their citizens against COVID-19.
While speaking at the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that globally, 140 countries have reached the target of vaccinating at least 10 percent of their populations. Only four of those countries are in Africa.
WHO’s global targets are to support every country to vaccinate at least 10 percent of its population by the end of September, at least 40 percent by the end of this year, and 70 percent of the world’s population by the middle of next year.
“I don’t need to tell you that the distribution of vaccines has been terribly unfair. More than 4.8 billion doses of vaccine have been administered globally. Just 87 million doses have been administered in the African region – less than 2 percent of the global total.” Dr. Ghebreyesus said.
More than 44 million doses have been distributed to 40 African countries through COVAX, with more doses being shipped in July than in the previous 5 months, according to WHO.
COVAX is a worldwide initiative that aims to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines, especially among the world’s poorer nations.
COVAX aims to deliver around 475 million more doses in the region by the end of December.
“We have also made progress towards increasing production in Africa, through the recent establishment of a technology transfer hub for mRNA vaccines in South Africa, and through our work with many countries including Rwanda & Senegal to boost local production.” Dr. Tedros said.
The WHO has been urging developed countries to halt issuing vaccine boosters to allow supplies get to African countries. However, most of these countries are continually campaigning for boosters.
Yesterday, Israel expanded its COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to those over 30 years old, broadening its booster campaign to fend off the coronavirus Delta variant.
A statement from the Health Ministry said its decision to lower the age of eligibility for a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine from 40 to 30 followed a recommendation of its advising experts and its epidemiology task-force and vaccines committee.
More than 5.4 million COVID-19 cases have been reported from the African region, and about 130,000 deaths reported.
“We know that these numbers are under-reported.” Dr. Ghebreyesus added.