Just five African countries out of the continent’s 54 nations are projected to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of their people against COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The agency warned on Thursday that unless efforts to accelerate the pace of vaccinations take off, this projection will become a reality.
WHO said that three African countries; Seychelles, Mauritius and Morocco, have already met the goal that was set in May. However, at the current pace, just two more countries; Tunisia and Cabo Verde, will also hit the target.
Africa struggled to obtain vaccines for much of the year. While the arrivals have improved over the last three months, many countries on the continent are still unable to ramp up their inoculations due to other challenges, including limited access to crucial commodities such as syringes.
UNICEF has reported an imminent shortfall of up to 2.2 billion auto-disable syringes for COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization in 2022. This includes 0.3ml auto-disposable syringes for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination.
Who says already some African countries, such as Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, have experienced delays in receiving syringes.
“The looming threat of a vaccine commodities crisis hangs over the continent. Early next year COVID-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress. Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast. Countless African lives depend on it,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Latest data from the WHO show that Africa has fully vaccinated 77 million people, just 6 per cent of its population. In comparison, over 70 per cent of high-income countries have already vaccinated more than 40 per cent of their people.
By Thursday, Africa had reported 8,483,555 COVID-19 infections with 218,803 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.