Africa Needs Vaccines as Second-Shot Deadline Looms, WHO Says

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African nations will need at least 20 million AstraZeneca Plc coronavirus vaccines by mid-July to complete the immunization of people who’ve had the first dose of the shots, the World Health Organization said.

A further 200 million doses are needed for the continent to vaccinate 10% of its population by September, WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in an online briefing on Thursday.

“Africans need vaccines now,” Moeti said.

Six months after the rollout of the first Covid-19 inoculation campaign globally, less than two doses per 100 people have been administered in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the WHO. Only 35 million shots have been shipped to Africa, with 28 million of them administered, according to Richard Mihigo, coordinator of the immunization program at the WHO’s Africa office.

“Any pause in our vaccination campaigns will lead to lost lives, and hope,” Moeti said. “We’re appealing to countries that have already vaccinated their higher risk groups to significantly expand and bring forward their pledges and actions to share doses. Dose sharing is an urgent, critical and short-term solution” to ensure Africans get the vaccines, she said.

Most African nations are depending on Covax, a global initiative created to provide equitable access to vaccines, to inoculate their populations.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said in March that deliveries of 90 million doses to lower-income countries under the Covax initiative had been delayed because of the ban on vaccine exports by the Serum Institute of India Ltd. The institute said May 18 shipments are unlikely to resume until the end of the year as it struggles to supply its home country, which has been overwhelmed by infections.

South Africa is among countries in the sub-region making progress in its vaccination program, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said at a separate briefing.

As of May 25, the nation had administered about 700,000 Covid-19 doses. South Africa should be able to achieve its target of immunizing 70% of its adult population, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said at the briefing.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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