Vaccinating 10 per cent of population: 7 African countries to meet September target

BY: Rebecca Quaicoe Duho
Dr Matshidiso Moeti — WHO Regional Director for Africa
Dr Matshidiso Moeti — WHO Regional Director for Africa

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has projected that seven countries in Africa will be able to meet the September target of vaccinating 10 per cent of their populations.

The countries are The Seychelles, Morocco, Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea, The Comoros, Sao Tome & Principe, and Zimbabwe.

Six other countries, including Ghana, Tunisia, Eswatini, Lesotho, Rwanda and Kenya, can also meet the target if they get the supplies they require for the average uptake.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made this known during a virtual press conference.

Dr Moeti was joined by Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Health Coverage, Mr Pierre N’Gou Dimba, and the Director of Health Partnerships, Facebook, Ms Luchen Foster.

Also on hand to answer questions were the Vaccines Introduction Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Phionah Atuhebwe; the Team Leader, Operational Partnerships, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Thierno Balde and the Routine Immunisation and New Vaccines Introduction Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Gilson Paluku.

Situation

Dr Moeti said with COVID-19 cases in Africa rising for the third week running and vaccines getting increasingly scarce, 47 of Africa’s 54 countries, about 90 per cent, were set to miss out on the September target of vaccinating 10 per cent of their people unless the continent received 225 million more doses of the vaccine.

The new global target was announced recently at the World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy-setting body.

“As Africa nears five million COVID-19 cases, numbers are rising week-on-week and increased by nearly 20 per cent to over 88,000 in the week ending on June 6, 2021,” Dr Moeti said.

The pandemic is said to be rising in 10 African countries, with four nations recording a spike of over 30 per cent of new cases in the past seven days, compared to the previous week.

About 72 per cent of all new cases were reported in Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia, while over half of the cases were recorded in nine southern African countries.

“As we close in on five million cases and a third wave in Africa looming, many of our most vulnerable people remain dangerously exposed to COVID-19.

“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,” Dr Moeti added.

Africa’s share of vaccine

At 32 million doses, Africa accounts for under one per cent of the over 2.1 billion doses administered globally.

Only two per cent of the continent’s nearly 1.3 billion people have received a dose, while 9.4 million Africans are fully vaccinated.

So far, 14 African countries have used between 80 and 100 per cent of the doses they received through the COVAX facility, with 20 countries using less than 50 per cent of the doses.

Twelve countries have more than 10 per cent of the AstraZeneca doses at risk of expiring by the end of August.

“We need to ensure that the vaccines that we have are not wasted because every dose is precious. Countries that are lagging behind in their rollout need to step up vaccination effort,” Dr Moeti added.