international COVAX The Global Vaccine Access Initiative recently announced that it is being forced to cut its planned shipments to Africa by about 150 million doses this year.
The scheme is expected to deliver 470 million doses by the end of December. That will be enough to protect just 17 percent of the continent, well below the 40 percent target.
To meet the year-end target, this 470 million figure needs to be doubled, even if all planned deliveries through COVAX and the African Union delivered.
Export bans, vaccine stockpiling
WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said “export bans and vaccine stockpiles are holding back vaccine supplies to Africa.”
“Until rich countries push COVAX out of the market, Africa will not be able to meet its vaccination goals. The huge gap in vaccine equity is not closing fast enough. It’s time for vaccine producing countries to open the gate and help protect those most at risk, ”said Ms Moeti.
In addition to export bans, shipments were constrained by increased production problems and approval delays. COVAX has called on donor countries to share their delivery schedules in order to clarify the delivery.
The initiative also urged countries with sufficient doses to skip the queue. Producers must fulfill their previous commitments, and developed countries must expand and accelerate donations.
An additional 95 million doses are due to arrive in Africa via COVAX during September, making it the largest shipment the continent has accepted on board in any month. To date, only 50 million people have been vaccinated, or 3.6 percent of the country’s population.
Only about 2 percent of the nearly 6 billion doses administered worldwide were received by Africans. The European Union and the United Kingdom have vaccinated more than 60 percent of their populations, and high-income countries have administered 48 times more doses per person than low-income countries.
“Staggering inequities and severe vaccine supply gaps threaten to turn low-vaccination areas in Africa into breeding grounds for vaccine-resistant options. This could lead to the fact that the whole world will return to normal, ”warned Ms Moeti.
WHO is increasing support for African countries to identify and close gaps in their COVID-19 deployment of the vaccine.
The agency has assisted 15 countries with internal reviews and made recommendations for improvement. The reviews have shown that the reliability of vaccine supply and uncertainty about the supply are major obstacles.
With more than 300 staff across Africa supporting the COVID-19 response, WHO is deploying experts and developing support plans in specific areas, including staffing, funding, strengthening supply chains and logistics, and increasing demand for vaccines.
As of September 14, Africa had 8.06 million COVID-19 cases, and while the third wave is weakening, nearly 125,000 new cases were reported in the week ending September 12.
That’s 27 percent less than the previous week, but new weekly cases are still around the peak of the first wave, and 19 countries continue to report high or rapidly growing numbers of cases.
Deaths fell 19 percent across Africa, to 2,531 in the week to September 12. A highly transmitted Delta variant has been identified in 31 African countries.