By Ademola Adeleye
Fears of a new deadly spread of the coronavirus in Africa is spreading even as vaccination drops to a halt in the continent. The situation has led to the exposure of front line workers and other vulnerable people to the disease.
Shipment of the vaccines from COVAX facility to Africa has grounded to a halt because of the overreliance on India for production. India is also currently battling severe waves of the pandemic which has left thousands of people dead with millions needing oxygen.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in a press conference said the lasting solution is the manufacturing of the vaccine in Africa.
The WHO Regional Director in a presentation titled: “Financing COVID-19 vaccines in Africa,” also asked richer countries who have vaccinated very significant proportion of their populations to share some of their COVID-19 vaccines with low and middle-income countries.
She said: “Vaccine deliveries to Africa have ground to a near halt, leaving many Africans, including those more vulnerable to severe illness and death, exposed to COVID-19. Dose sharing from high-income countries is an urgent, crucial part of the solution to Africa’s vaccine supply crunch.
“When we look at access to the COVID-19 vaccines, we see great inequalities across countries – Seychelles is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with 67 percent of the population having received at least one dose.
“In 14 African countries less than one percent of the population has received a single COVID-19 vaccine dose and in four countries vaccination has not started.
“COVID-19 vaccine shipments to African countries have slowed down to a trickle this month because of the reliance on India as one of the key manufacturers globally, and the devastating surge of cases India is dealing with.
“The continent was expecting 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses through COVAX from February to May, but instead has so far received only 18.2 million doses,” she said.
She pushed for the manufacturing of the vaccine on the continent as a lasting solution to the inequality: “There is a great interest and push for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing on the African continent, and this is a promising medium- to long-term solution.”