African nations see pick-up in vaccinations after sluggish start

Jumped 15% in February as several countries embarked on mass vaccination drives after the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and other partners sent teams to help get shots in arms.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

The number of Africans being inoculated against Covid-19 jumped 15% in February as several countries embarked on mass vaccination drives after the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and other partners sent teams to help get shots in arms.

About 62 million doses were administered across the continent last month, with nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria significantly increasing their vaccination rates, the WHO said Thursday. The global partners are supporting campaigns in at least 10 priority countries to reach 100 million people by the end of April.

Starved for vaccines for most of 2021, dozens of countries have struggled to turn improving supplies into inoculations. Just 15% of the adult African population is fully vaccinated. Of the 714 million doses received so far, 61% has been administered.

“Although the continent is reporting fewer and fewer cases, this does not signal the end of the pandemic,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s director for Africa. “We must maximise on this opportunity to protect as many people as possible with the vaccine and close all the avenues for a Covid-19 resurgence.”

Diversifying vaccination delivery strategies also helped reach large numbers of people quickly, the WHO said. Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, last week said Pfizer Inc. agreed to supply its Covid-19 pill, bringing a key virus-fighting tool to Africa.

“While this progress is welcome, the pace of vaccination across the continent needs to increase nine-fold if we are to reach our target of vaccinating 70% of the population by June,” Moeti said.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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