According to the World Health Organization, Africa faces a shortage of almost 500 million doses of the vaccine required to meet the 40% vaccinated population benchmark by the end of this year.
This comes on the heels of information that the COVAX Facility has been forced to slash planned COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Africa by around 150 million this year.
This shortfall comes as Africa topped 8 million COVID-19 cases in the previous week. The 470 million doses now to be delivered to the continent this year will only be sufficient to vaccinate just 17% of the continent’s population, far below the 40% target.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti has expressed concerns over this stating that, “Export bans and vaccine hoarding have a chokehold on vaccine supplies to Africa. As long as rich countries lock COVAX out of the market, Africa will miss its vaccination goals. The huge gap in vaccine equity is not closing anywhere near fast enough. It is time for vaccine manufacturing countries to open the gates and help protect those facing the greatest risk.”
The regional director made this statement during a virtual press conference today facilitated by APO Group. She was joined by Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, Co-Chair of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance (AVDA), Ms. Aurélia Nguyen, Managing Director, Office of the COVAX Facility, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
A number of factors have constrained the delivery of vaccines to some countries, including export bans, challenges in boosting production at COVAX manufacturing sites, and delays in filing for regulatory approvals for new vaccines. Hence, COVAX has called for donor countries to share their supply schedules to give more clarity on deliveries.
COVAX, a multilateral initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, has called for countries with enough vaccines to give up their place in the queue for deliveries, to enable countries with the least and lowest percentage of the vaccinated population to have access to the vaccines.
Throughout this month, about 95 million more doses are set to arrive in Africa via COVAX, which will be the largest shipment the continent receives for any month so far and despite this, Africa has still been unable to fully vaccinate and is lagging behind with only 3.6% or 50 million people vaccinated.
Compared to over 60% vaccination achieved in the European Union and the United Kingdom, Africa has only been able to successfully administer around 2% of the nearly 6 billion doses given globally.
According to the Regional Director, “The staggering inequity and severe lag in shipments of vaccines threaten to turn areas in Africa with low vaccination rates into breeding grounds for vaccine-resistant variants. This could end up sending the whole world back to square one,” said Dr Moeti.
The continent has now recorded 8.06 million COVID-19 cases as of 14th of September 2021, while in the week ending 12th of September, there was a 27% drop in cases recorded with nearly 125,000 new cases.