44 African countries have received batches of COVID-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility, the agency said in Thursday, noting that 32 of those countries had already rolled out mas vaccinations.
The WHO Africa region said in a statement that some 7.7 million doses had already been administered around the continent, though vaccine deliveries had begun slowing down.
It urged for urgent supply of more vaccine doses as countries on the continent near exhaustion of their batches.
Most countries that have rolled out vaccination drives in Africa have targeted high risk groups including healthcare workers, the elderly and essential service providers.
44 African countries have received vaccines through the #COVAX Facility or through donations & bilateral agreements, & 32 of them have begun vaccinations.
So far, 7.7 million vaccine doses have been administered mainly to high-risk population groups. pic.twitter.com/eDCAJyfW1q
— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) March 25, 2021
The WHO African region noted that 10 countries were yet to receive their vaccine batches, and that a critical proportion of the population targeted in the initial phase of the vaccination campaign may remain unvaccinated for months to come due to global supply chain constraints.
“A slowdown in vaccine supply could prolong the painful journey to end this pandemic for millions of people in Africa,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa. “While some high-income countries are seeking to vaccinate their entire populations, many in Africa are struggling to sufficiently cover even their high-risk groups. Acquiring COVID-19 vaccines must not be a competition. Fair access will benefit all and not just some of us.”
By Thursday, the continent had reported 4,139,706 COVID-19 infections with 110,846 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recently, some African countries have seen surged in new infections and deaths as a third wave of the virus batters the continent.
These include Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya have recorded a rising infection trend in recent weeks.
The WHO Africa region attributed the rise in cases to super-spreader events such as mass gatherings as well as a relaxation by the population in observing public health measures.