U.S. Sends Vaccine Supplies to Africa as Covid Deaths Rise


About 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses donated by the U.S. government are set to be delivered to dozens of African nations in the coming weeks as the continent copes with a severe wave of infections.

The first shipments -- almost 1 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine -- will be sent to Burkina Faso, Djibouti and Ethiopia within days, health officials said in a joint statement Friday. They will be delivered by Covax, the global distribution program that has fallen short of initial targets.

The deliveries to 49 African countries will help the continent’s urgent campaign to protect millions of vulnerable people, and they follow the Biden’s administration’s pledge to ship at least 80 million doses -- a mix of Moderna Inc., Pfizer Inc. and J&J vaccines -- out of the country this summer.

Africa remains far behind. Only 1.5% of its population is fully vaccinated, compared with more than 50% of people in some high-income countries.

About 750 million more doses will be needed to fully vaccinate 30% of the African population by the end of 2021, according to the World Health Organization. The continent has recorded a more than 40% jump in weekly Covid deaths, and hospital admissions are rising sharply, the WHO said July 15.

The U.S. is sharing shots after rolling out the first hundreds of millions of doses at home. The government has sent supplies bit by bit as arrangements and transportation logistics fall into place. Biden had planned to send 80 million by the end of June, but missed that target. His administration has separately ordered 500 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to donate abroad.

U.S. doses of Moderna’s vaccine were due to arrive in Sri Lanka on Friday. The government also shipped shots this week to Laos, Costa Rica and Fiji following announced shipments to a number of other countries.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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