NIGERIA: The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti has said that 24 million Africans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine while 5 million have received the complete dose of the vaccine across Africa.
Moeti who spoke during a virtual press conference held on Thursday said that in addition to the 9.5 billion dollars needed to buy enough vaccines to ensure adequate protection from COVID-19, another three billion dollars is required to fund vaccinators, cold-room storage, logistics, equipment and transport to deliver them.
Moeti lamented the great inequalities among countries pointing out that the developed countries are benefiting more than the underdeveloped countries, the majority of which are in Africa.
“When we look at access to the vaccines, we see great inequalities across countries. Seychelles is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with 67% of the population having received at least one dose.
“In Morocco, they have reached 29%, and in Mauritius 17%. Whereas in 14 African countries, less than 1% of the population has received a single dose and in four countries vaccination has not started.
“While in Africa, on average fewer than 2 in 100 people have been received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, in some high-income countries more than 8 out of 10 people have been reached. “
Vaccine Supply slowed
The WHO Regional Director also said that the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine to African country has been slowed due to its reliance on India.
“COVID-19 vaccine shipments to African countries have slowed down to a trickle this month because of the reliance on India as one of the key manufacturers globally, and the devastating surge of cases India is dealing with.
” The continent was expecting 66 million doses through COVAX from February to May, but instead has so far received only 18.2 million doses”, he said.
He stated that time is running out and there is a need to make up for lost ground so that life can return to normal for Africans.
“While African countries await shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, many are struggling to roll out even their limited doses, and second doses to complete the course of vaccination are at risk.
” Funding for operational costs is also a critical barrier. It is estimated that 60% of every dollar spent on delivering vaccines is needed for logistics and operations.”
The Press Conference also had in attendance, the Regional Director, Human Development, West and Central Africa Region of the World Bank, Dena Ringold, and the Standard Chartered, Head of Research and Chief Economist, Africa and Middle East, Razia Khan.
They were also joined by the Coordinator, Immunization and Vaccines Development Programme, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Richard Mihigo.