Africa needs sixfold rise in weekly vaccinations, WHO says

If the least vaccinated continent is to reach the World Health Organisation’s target of 70% of its people fully covered by mid-year.
Image: Christinne Muschi/Bloomberg

The number of Africans being inoculated against Covid-19 needs to climb to 34 million people a week, from 6 million currently, if the least vaccinated continent is to reach the World Health Organisation’s target of 70% of its people fully covered by mid-year.

While vaccine supplies to the continent have improved recently, slow rollouts are hindering efforts to reach this goal, Alain Poy, head of the WHO’s vaccine preventable disease program in Africa said in a briefing Thursday. The organisation has prepared teams to aid countries that are struggling to get shots in arms, he said.

The task of significantly increasing Covid-19 vaccinations remains WHO’s priority, even as the continent appears to be weathering the latest pandemic wave, the WHO said in a statement. After a steep six-week surge, Africa’s fourth pandemic wave is flattening. This would be the shortest-lived Covid-19 surge in the continent to date, WHO said.

Southern African countries showed a 14% drop in infections over the past week, WHO said. Still, North and West Africa are recording a rise in cases.

“The next wave might not be so forgiving,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said.

In South Africa, which was the initial epicenter of the omicron wave, about 95% of all new coronavirus cases in some of the hospitals being monitired are due to this highly transmissible variant, Anita Graham, a Johannesburg-based pulmonologist, said on the WHO call.

About 10% of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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