About 70% of African nations missed a target of vaccinating one out of every 10 people against Covid-19 by the end of September, the World Health Organisation said.
The delivery of shots to the continent needs to double for African countries to meet the next target of inoculating 40% of their populations by year end, Richard Mihigo, program area manager for immunisation and vaccine development at the WHO’s Africa office, said in a briefing on Thursday.
Half of the 52 African countries that have vaccination programs have inoculated less than 2% of their population, he said. Those with steady vaccine supply and the ability to procure shots through “early bilateral deals over and above what Covax was able to deliver,” were the most likely to have reached the target, he added.
Covax, the program set up to deliver Covid-19 vaccines equitably around the world, has struggled to build up supplies as many wealthier countries secured surplus stock ahead of poorer nations.
The initiative has also been hit by production delays and export bans, with partners urging countries to up donations and companies to be more transparent on supply deals.
“There’s a need to see Covax, and other countries, reach the front of the queue,” Mihigo said. “We need to maintain focus around that because we know there are many countries now moving to a third dose.”
Still, Mihigo said he’s hopeful “we can all work together to reach this important second milestone.”