NAIROBI. – Despite the number of new Covid-19 cases in Africa decreasing since August, fears of further surges remain in the continent due to low vaccination rates.
According to data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, only 5.6 percent of Africa’s 1.2 billion population have been fully vaccinated, while developed countries have surpassed 40 percent and are even administering booster doses.
The figures clearly indicate vaccine inequality between developed and developing countries, despite a persistent vaccine equity call by the United Nations.
In a statement addressing the 5 million Covid-19 global fatality figure on this week, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres raised concerns on the vaccine inequality issue.
“While wealthy countries are rolling out third doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, only about 5 percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated. This is a global shame,” he said.
“The best way to honor those 5 million people lost, and support health workers fighting this virus every day, is to make vaccine equity a reality by accelerating our efforts and ensuring maximum vigilance to defeat this virus.”
Similar concerns were also shared by John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC.
“It will take much longer for Africa to control Covid-19 than previously predicted because of the slow pace of vaccinations across the continent. We are getting to a point where effective control of the pandemic will become more challenging,” Nkengasong said.
He warned that vaccination delay will give more room for the virus to continue mutating and could even see the continent start recording surging cases in the next two months as it has been witnessed previously.
Yesterday, the World Health Organization said only five African countries, namely Seychelles, Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia and Cabo Verde, will hit the year-end target set by the World Health Assembly of fully vaccinating 40 percent of their populations.
The UN agency said Africa is facing a 275 million shortfall of COVID-19 vaccines in meeting its year-end target of fully vaccinating 40 percent of its people. – ChinaDaily.com