African countries were able to triple COVID-19 vaccinations in the past week, but the prospect of inoculating up to 10% of the continent’s population by the end of September is still elusive, Africa’s head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
At the same time, the continent saw 248,000 new confirmed cases in the past week, with at least 24 countries seeing an increase in infections driven by the delta variant.
“This is a tragedy that can be prevented if African countries can get fair access to the vaccines,” Matshidiso Moeti told reporters.
The WHO Africa director said 13 million doses were administered in the past week, three times the number of shots fired in the previous week as dose donations increased from developed countries. But there is still a drop in the ocean at the continent’s homes for 1.3 billion people, where Africa’s disease control and prevention centers say only 2.4% are currently vaccinated.
Africa’s brutal resuscitation, driven by the delta variant, extends across already strained health systems across the continent. When African countries fight, the United States and other high-income countries talk about booster shots.
WHO Director – General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said it was “unaware” that some countries now offer booster shots “while so many people remain unprotected.”
“I think it is very difficult for us to talk about booster doses in Africa,” Moeti said on Thursday. “We have not covered even 5% of the population yet with the first vaccinations needed to slow down the spread of the virus and most importantly, stop what we believe may be a fourth wave to come.”
Africa will receive 117 million doses in the coming months, but a further 34 million will be needed to reach the 10% vaccination target, added the WHO’s Africa Director.
In addition, however, Moeti called on African countries to increase their preparedness to use vaccines when they arrive.
“No precious dose should be wasted,” she said.