The African continent, with 1.3 billion people, could take almost three years to reach that Covid-19 vaccination goal that several high-income countries and regions have already achieved. To avoid the lag, the WHO asked the global north not to hoard vaccines.
If the rate of immunization does not accelerate in 2022, Africa could reach the vaccination of 70% of its population against Covid-19 in August 2024. It is the alarm that the World Health Organization (WHO ), amid the increase in cases on the continent and the alert generated by the Omicron variant.
The WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said on Tuesday that “if Africa had the doses and support to vaccinate 70% of its population by the end of 2021”, tens of thousands of deaths could be counted less next year. .
In the last week, according to the WHO, the continent registered an 83% increase in infections, mainly due to the Omicron and Delta variants, which leads to the cases doubling every 5 days. However, deaths maintain a decrease of 19%.
Among other reasons, these figures are precisely what lead the scientific community to believe that Ómicron has a high transmissibility but causes a less serious disease.
They ask for “solidarity” from rich countries
At the gates of 2022, Moeti called on the most developed nations to ask for solidarity with the African continent. The WHO recalled that support is not only expressed through donations, but also by avoiding hoarding vaccination supplies.
In fact, after the appearance of Ómicron, the countries with more income have reinforced their campaigns for booster doses of the drugs, something that could affect the supply for countries that have not yet been able to immunize their inhabitants.
Faced with this, the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, insisted that it is more important that the anticovid vaccines reach populations that have not yet received the full schedule, instead of applying booster doses in nations with high levels of immunization. “The who He is not against the reinforcement doses, but we are against inequality, “he said.
How is vaccination going in Africa?
Of the 54 sovereign African states, only 20 have 10% of their population with the full vaccination scheme. Of these, only 6 countries have managed to do so with 40% and only two (Mauritius and Seychelles) have reached 70%. Overall, less than 8% of the African population has both doses of the vaccine.
The African continent has so far received around 350 million vaccines through the COVAX mechanism, designed to distribute drugs equitably.
Matshidiso Moeti pointed out that, of the donated doses, a significant percentage had to be eliminated, as they had expired. This was due, as he explains, to a lack of “predictability”, since the health authorities of some recipient countries were aware of the amount of vaccines they were going to receive, as well as the expiration date shortly before their arrival, which that prevented proper logistical planning.
Based on this, Moeti ruled out that African nations are wasting doses due to poor infrastructure or lack of decision. He clarified that around 900,000 doses had expired in 20 countries, which represents less than a quarter of 1%, and stressed that the main challenge continues to be the supply of vaccines.
“As supplies begin to increase, we must intensify our focus on other barriers to vaccination, including lack of funds, equipment, healthcare workers, and cold chain capacity, as well as addressing vaccine reluctance.” Moeti stressed.
With EFE and AP