HARARE (Reuters) – About 90% of African countries will miss a September target to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations against COVID-19 as a third wave of the pandemic looms on the continent, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Thursday.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the continent required an extra 225 million doses to be able to vaccinate a tenth of its people by September this year.
Africa has hit 5 million COVID-19 cases, with the southern Africa region the worst affected, accounting for 37% of total cases, according to a Reuters tally. South Africa is the worst affected African country, with about 34% of the total cases and about 43% of all deaths.
“With vaccine stocks and shipments drying up, the continent’s vaccination coverage for the first dose remains stuck at 2% and at about 1% in sub-saharan Africa,” Moeti told a weekly news briefing.
“Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can, must urgently share COVID-19 vaccines. It’s do or die on dose sharing for Africa.”
Moeti said U.S. President Joe Biden plans to buy and donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to more than 90 countries was an important step forward in making vaccines available on the continent.
Africa Centres for Disease Control director John Nkengasong said in a separate news conference that 14 African countries were “aggressively” heading towards a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“You can clearly see that the variant that was identified in India is getting a hold on the continent. We continue to analyses the situation and see whether there is correlation between the variant and the third wave,” said Nkengasong.