The shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine to Africa has accelerated, injecting fresh impetus in the continent’s quest to limit infections and fatalities arising from the virus, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Thursday.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said that nearly 4 million doses arrived in the continent last week, as plans to ramp up deliveries and inoculate 30 percent of the population by the end of this year gathers steam.
“I urge all countries with surplus doses to urgently share more in the spirit of life-saving solidarity and enlightened self-interest because no country is safe until all countries are safe,” Moeti said in a statement.
According to Moeti, 79 million COVID-19 doses have already arrived in Africa and 21 million people or 1.6 percent of the continent’s population are fully immunized.
She said Africa required 820 million doses to inoculate 30 percent of its population by the end of 2021 even as multilateral initiatives plan to deliver the life-saving commodity in large quantities in the coming weeks.
Moeti said the COVAX facility will ship 520 million doses to the continent towards the end of this year while African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) plans to deliver 10 million doses each month from September, to hit a target of 45 million by year’s end.
She disclosed that the COVAX facility has clinched new deals with China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac to rapidly supply 110 million additional doses to low-income countries, a majority in Africa.
Moeti said multilateral lenders like the World Bank are set to boost COVID-19 vaccine supply to developing countries at a subsidized cost, adding that Africa will benefit from that arrangement.
She said that vaccine donation from bilateral partners will help the continent plug a shortfall occasioned by global supply hiccups and revitalize action on the third wave of infections that has strained public health systems.