SA one of nine African states hitting Covid-19 vaccination target
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CAPE TOWN - As nine African countries, including South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia have already reached the global Covid-19 vaccination target set in May by the World Health Assembly, the rest of the continent is set to miss the global goal of vaccinating the most vulnerable 10% of every country’s population.
New data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows 42 of Africa’s 54 nations—nearly 80%—are set to miss the target if the current pace of vaccine deliveries and vaccinations hold.
“With less than a month to go, this looming goal must concentrate minds in Africa and globally,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.
“Vaccine hoarding has held Africa back and we urgently need more vaccines, but as more doses arrive, African countries must zero in and drive forward precise plans to rapidly vaccinate the millions of people that still face a grave threat from Covid-19.”
Almost 21 million Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Africa via the COVAX Facility in August, an amount equal to the previous four months combined.
With more vaccines expected from COVAX and the African Union by the end of September, the WHO noted that there was some hope that continent could see enough doses delivered to meet the 10% target.
Over 143 million doses have been received in Africa in total and 39 million people—around just 3% of Africa’s population—are fully vaccinated.
In comparison, 52% of people are fully vaccinated in the US and 57% in the European Union.
“The inequity is deeply disturbing. Just 2% of the over five billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa. Yet recent rises in vaccine shipments and commitments shows that a fairer, more just global distribution of vaccines looks possible,” said Dr Moeti.
Covid-19 cases are declining slightly in Africa but remain stubbornly high, the WHO noted.
A rising number of new cases in Central, East and West Africa pushed case numbers up to nearly 215 000 in the week ending on August 29.
Twenty-five countries—over 45% of African countries—are reporting high or fast-rising case numbers.
“Although Africa’s third wave peaked in July, the decline in new cases is at a glacial pace—far slower than in previous waves. The pandemic is still raging in Africa and we must not let our guard down. Every hour 26 Africans die of Covid-19,” the WHO said.
The highly transmissible Delta variant has been found in 31 African countries, while the Alpha variant has been detected in 44 countries and the Beta variant in 39.
The C.1.2 variant has been identified in 114 cases in South Africa the WHO said.
Single cases have been found in four other African countries, and very low case numbers have been reported internationally.
While first reported to WHO in July, the prevalence of the new variant remains very low.
To be identified as a variant of concern there must be evidence of an impact on transmissibility, severity or immunity. This is not the case for the C.1.2 variant, yet more data is required, the WHO said.