WHO says 9 in 10 African countries to miss COVID-19 vaccination goal By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

HARARE (Reuters) – About 90% of African countries will miss a September target to vaccinate at least 10% of their populations against COVID-19 as a third wave of the pandemic looms on the continent, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Thursday.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the continent required an extra 225 million doses to be able to vaccinate a tenth of its people by September this year.

Africa has hit 5 million COVID-19 cases, with the southern Africa region the worst affected, accounting for 37% of total cases, according to a Reuters tally. South Africa is the worst affected African country, with about 34% of the total cases and about 43% of all deaths.

“With vaccine stocks and shipments drying up, the continent’s vaccination coverage for the first dose remains stuck at 2% and at about 1% in sub-saharan Africa,” Moeti told a weekly news briefing.

“Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can, must urgently share COVID-19 vaccines. It’s do or die on dose sharing for Africa.”

Moeti said U.S. President Joe Biden plans to buy and donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer (NYSE:) coronavirus vaccine to more than 90 countries was an important step forward in making vaccines available on the continent.

Africa Centres for Disease Control director John Nkengasong said in a separate news conference that 14 African countries were “aggressively” heading towards a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You can clearly see that the variant that was identified in India is getting a hold on the continent. We continue to analyse the situation and see whether there is correlation between the variant and the third wave,” said Nkengasong.

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