World Health Organisation (WHO) says nine in 10 African nations are set to miss the September target of vaccinating 10 per cent of their populations against COVID-19.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti disclosed this at a virtual press conference on Thursday.
Moeti said at 32 million doses, Africa accounted for less than one per cent of the more than 2.1 billion doses administered globally.
“Just two per cent of the continent’s nearly 1.3 billion people have received one dose, and only 9.4 million Africans are fully vaccinated.
“It’s do or die on dose sharing for Africa,” Moeti said.
The director said 225 million doses of vaccine needed urgently on the continent came as coronavirus infections increased there for the third consecutive week.
“Africa’s 54 countries have registered nearly five million COVID-19 infections to date and numbers increased by nearly 20 per cent – to more than 88, 000 – in the week ending 6 June.
“As we close in on five million cases and a third wave in Africa looms, 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.”
According to WHO’s latest situation update, the pandemic is trending upwards in 10 African countries and four nations have seen a 30 per cent increase in cases in the past seven days, compared with the previous week.
“Most of the new cases were in Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia and over half were in nine southern African countries.
“Vaccines have become increasingly scarce; at the current rate of delivery only seven African nations will meet the goal of immunising one in 10 people by September.’’
The development came as the WHO announced on Thursday that for the first time in Europe since last August, deaths from COVID-19 had fallen below 10,000 in a week.
In a regular update, the UN health agency noted that cases, hospitalisations and deaths have decreased in the region for two consecutive months.
A total of 368,000 new cases were reported in the last seven days, which is a fifth of the weekly cases reported during Europe’s recent peak in April, said Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
He noted that the European Region had seen 55 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1.2 million deaths, which is around a third of the global caseload.
More than 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the last six months, Dr Kluge noted, meaning that 30 per cent of Europeans have received at least one vaccine dose and 17 per cent have been fully immunised.
“Vaccination coverage is far from sufficient to protect the (European) region from a resurgence; the distance to go before reaching at least 80 per cent coverage of the adult population, is still considerable,” the WHO official explained.