Brazzaville – Less than 2% of the 690 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered worldwide to date have been in Africa, where most countries received vaccines just five weeks ago and in small quantities.
Forty-five African countries have received vaccines, of which 43 have started vaccination, and almost 13 million of the 31.6 million doses delivered so far have been administered. The pace of vaccine introduction, however, is not uniform, with 93% of doses given in 10 countries.
Readiness to introduce vaccines, including training of health workers, development of priority groups, and coordination has helped some countries quickly reach a large proportion of targeted high-risk populations, such as health workers. The ten countries that have vaccinated the most have used up at least 65% of their stocks.
“Although progress is being made, many African countries have barely crossed the starting line. Limited supplies and bottlenecks in delivery put COVID-19 vaccines out of the reach of many people in the region, ”said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa. “Fair access to vaccines must be a reality if we are to work together to bring about this pandemic.”
Once delivered, the introduction of vaccines in some countries has been delayed by operational and financial obstacles or logistical difficulties, such as reaching remote locations. The WHO supports countries in addressing challenges by strengthening planning and coordination, advocating for more funding, and by establishing effective communication strategies to address vaccine variability and misinformation.
Delays affect not only the delivery of vaccines to priority targets, but also the spread of vaccination to the rest of the population, some of whom have expressed a desire to receive doses. The WHO has set a goal to start vaccinating health workers and other priority groups in all countries in the first 100 days of 2021.
“Africa is already playing compensation for vaccination against COVID-19, and the gap is widening. “Although we recognize the enormous burden of global demand for vaccines, inequality can only exacerbate scarcity,” he said. Moeti. “More than a billion Africans remain on the margins of this historic march to overcome the pandemic.”
Through the COVAX facility, 16.6 million doses of vaccines – mostly AstraZeneca – have been delivered to African countries.
The WHO World Vaccine Safety Advisory Board concluded this week that a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and the occurrence of rare blood clots is likely, but has not yet been confirmed. This follows the announcement by the European Medicines Agency that unusual blood clots should be listed as very rare side effects of the vaccine.
Among the nearly 200 million people who have received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine worldwide, cases of blood clots and low platelets are extremely low.
The Global Vaccine Safety Advisory Board continues to collect and review further data, closely monitoring the introduction of all COVID-19 vaccines. Based on current data, the WHO believes that the benefits far outweigh the risks and that countries in Africa should continue to vaccinate people with AstraZeneca.
There were now about 4.3 million cases of COVID-19 on the African continent, and 114,000 people died. In the past two months, the region has seen a plateau of about 74,000 new cases a week. However, Kenya is experiencing a third wave, and the epidemic is showing an upward trend in 14 more African countries, including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali, Rwanda and Tunisia.
Dr. Moeti spoke during today’s virtual press conference led by the APO group. She was joined by Dr. Abdelhakim Yahyane, Director of Population, Ministry of Health, Morocco, and Mr. Mohamed Malick Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for East and South Africa. They were also available to answer questions from others. Salam Gueye, Director, Regional Office for Emergency Preparedness and Response, WHO Regional Office for Africa, and Dr. Richard Mihigo, Program for Immunization and Vaccine Development Program, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
For more information or to request interviews, please contact: Meenakshi Dalal Communications Advisor Email: [email protected] Tel: +1 (682) 812 2306 (WhatsApp)
Sakuya OKA Communications Manager WHO Regional Office for Africa Mobile: +242 06 508 1009 Email: [email protected]