The World Health Organisation has said 47 African countries are set to miss the September target of vaccinating 10 per cent of their people unless the continent receives 225 million more doses.
The international public health agency stated further that seven of the 54 countries on the continent likely to reach the 10 per cent target by September included Seychelles, Morocco, Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, and Zimbabwe.
Nigeria on March 2 received 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine shipped via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO. The Federal Government also planned to spend N296bn on COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021 and 2022.
The Federal Government in May released N29.1bn for the purchase of Johnson & Johnson vaccines through the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust initiative coordinated by the Afreximbank.
The Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr John Nkengasong, had said during a Joint meeting of the African Union Ministers of Health last month that the vaccines might arrive in late July or August or even later because of the Indian strain.
Nigeria, awaiting about 29.5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine already approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control alongside the Pfizer vaccine, has a population of over 210 million according to a reference website, Worldometer.
In email exchanges with our correspondent, Communications Officer, COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Natalie Ridgard, noted that an additional six countries, namely Tunisia, Ghana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Rwanda and Kenya, could reach the target if they got the needed supply to adhere to their current average uptake.
Ridgard said, “An additional six countries (Tunisia, Ghana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Rwanda and Kenya) could reach the target if they get the supply that they need to adhere to their current average uptake. The rest are unlikely to reach the target at current average uptake. Five countries that have used 100 per cent of their COVAX doses are Eswatini, Gambia, Lesotho, Morocco, and Rwanda.
“Five countries that had run out last week received shipments this week, namely Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, Namibia, and Togo. Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, and Tunisia have used over 90 per cent; Ethiopia and Uganda have used over 80 per cent, and Angola over 70 per cent.’’
WHO further stated that 20 countries had administered more than 50 per cent of COVAX doses they received. The agency named the countries as Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.
According to WHO, two million AstraZeneca doses must be used by the end of August before their expiry. It noted, “Countries with more than 10 per cent of doses currently at risk of expiry before the end of August are South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Cameroon, Niger, Gambia, Mali, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Angola, Togo and Benin.
On Thursday, during a virtual press conference in Brazzaville, Congo, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, stated that as Africa neared five million COVID-19 cases, numbers were rising week-on-week and increased by nearly 20 per cent to over 88,000 in the week ending on June 6.
Moeti said, “The pandemic is trending upwards in 10 African countries, with four nations recording a spike in new cases of over 30 per cent in the past seven days, compared with the previous week. 72 per cent of all new cases were reported in Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia and over half were recorded in nine southern African countries.
“As we close in on five million cases and a third wave in Africa looms, many of our most vulnerable people remain dangerously exposed to COVID-19. Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can, must urgently share COVID-19 vaccines. It is do-or-die on dose sharing for Africa.’’
He disclosed that at 32 million doses, Africa accounted for under one per cent of the over 2.1 billion doses administered globally, adding that only two per cent of the continent’s nearly 1.3 billion people had received one dose and only 9.4 million Africans were fully vaccinated.
WHO stated further that the United States President Joe Biden’s announced that the US would purchase and donate half a billion Pfizer vaccines to 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union would be an important step forward. It said, “This comes as we see other countries such as France also making tangible deliveries via COVAX.’’