Fifteen African countries have succeeded in fully vaccinating at least 10 percent of their population against COVID-19 by September 30, a target set by the World Health Organization in May. However, it leaves two-thirds of the continent’s 54 countries vulnerable to the deadly disease.
Many countries have done very well. Seychelles and Mauritius have fully vaccinated more than 60 percent of their population and Morocco has vaccinated 48 percent against the coronavirus.
Richard Mihigo is the coordinator of the Department of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases at the WHO’s Regional Office for Africa. He said those countries were able to meet and even exceed the 10 percent target because they had a stable vaccine supply available.
He said most had money to do bilateral deals for procurement of the vaccine apart from supplies through the COVAX facility.
Mihigo said, “Unfortunately, 70 percent of African countries have missed this important milestone to protect their most vulnerable, with half of the 52 countries with COVID-19 vaccination programs in Africa covering two percent of their population.” less than one has been vaccinated.”
This compares to vaccination rates of 50 percent or more in wealthy countries.
WHO reports that monthly vaccine deliveries in Africa have increased 10-fold since June. However, it needs more than double that amount to reach the vaccination target of 40 percent of Africa’s 1.3 billion people by the end of the year.
Mihigo said COVAX is identifying countries that do not have the means to purchase vaccines and putting them at the forefront of getting enough doses to cover their most at-risk populations. However, he added that the dose pledge by wealthy countries needs to be implemented soon.
“Starting next week, we are sending multi-disciplinary teams of international experts to countries that are struggling to scale up their operations so that we can identify bottlenecks so that local officials and their partners can address them as they continue. Rollout the vaccines,” Mihigo said.
On a more positive note, the World Health Organization says COVID-19 infections in Africa dropped 35 percent last week to more than 74,000, with more than 1,700 deaths in 34 countries.
Despite the dwindling numbers, the WHO has warned people to remain vigilant and follow proven public health measures to save lives. These include wearing masks, washing hands regularly and physical distancing.