How India’s Covid-19 crisis is hurting Africa
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Cape Town – At least seven countries in Africa have exhausted all their vaccine supplies, this is according to the World Health Organization.
With the continued Covid-19 health crisis in India, more vaccination campaigns on the continent might be brought to a complete halt because of India's export ban resulting in Covax supplies drying up.
With 3.45-million active cases, India recorded 357 229 new infections over the past 24 hours, while deaths rose 3,449 for a toll of 222 408, health ministry data showed. Experts say actual numbers could be five to 10 times higher, however.
India is currently facing the world's worst surge in coronavirus infections, which has led to a clamour for vaccines.
About 17% of the world depends on Covid-19 vaccines manufactured in India and supplies more than 80% of 2.26 billion doses to Covax; a facility which most African countries are dependent on for its vaccine supplies.
According to Thabani Maphosa of the Vaccine Alliance, Gavi, so far, the facility has secured two billion doses for low-income countries, which includes all of Africa; 600 million of those vaccines are meant for the continent.
The Serum Institute of India was expected to deliver the first 100 million doses between February and May – but Indian government data shows that it has so far delivered only 30 million (this includes 10 million set aside for India itself under Covax).
On Monday, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a news conference that they do not expect the Serum Institute of India to be able to supply the kind of (doses) originally predicted in the next few months.
Swaminathan said they are seeking to fill the gap left by India and is in talks with donors including the United States.
Among those who have already exhausted their vaccine supply, includes Rwanda, Ghana, and Senegal. They will now need to wait several weeks for more to arrive.
Kenya, which had ordered 24 million doses of the vaccine through the Covax facility, has so far received a total of 1.02 million and an additional 100 000 doses that were given in kind, by the Indian government. About 826 000 doses have been administered.
Meanwhile, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Africa (CDC) says discussions between the organisation and the Indian government are ongoing to "at least get some of" the vaccines that were promised.
The African Union has also approached other vaccine manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson, which announced last month it would make up to 400 million doses of single-shot vaccine available to Africa. However, the first shipments are not expected to arrive until the third quarter of 2021.