Only 5 African countries may fully vaccinate 40% of population by year-end – WHO Africa

PUBLISHED: Thu, 28 Oct 2021 15:56:45 GMT
George Obulutsa
A woman receives a dose of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, as South Africa rolls out the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination to the elderly at the Munsieville Care for the Aged Centre outside Johannesburg, South Africa May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo/File Photo

NAIROBI, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Only five African countries will meet the target of fully vaccinating 40% of their populations against COVID-19 unless the pace of inoculations accelerates across the continent, World Health Organization said on Thursday.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout may be slowed by an “imminent shortfall” of up to 2.2 billion auto-disposable syringes globally needed to administer the jab and routine immunisations barring an increase in their manufacturing, WHO Africa said. At present there is no global stockpile of the specialised syringes which are in high demand, and they will remain in short supply at least through the first quarter of 2022.

WHO Africa said in a statement that Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa have already experienced delays in receiving syringes.

“Early next year COVID-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyse progress. Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa’s director.

Read more: WHO-backed vaccine hub for Africa to copy Moderna COVID-19 shot

So far, the continent has fully vaccinated 77 million people, just 6% of its population.

About 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have arrived on the continent this month, almost double September’s arrivals, WHO Africa said.

“However, at the current pace, Africa still faces a 275 million shortfall of COVID-19 vaccines against the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of its people,” it said.

As of Thursday, Africa had close 8.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 217,000 deaths, WHO Africa said.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Mark Porter)

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