Do or die for vaccine in Africa: WHO

·2-min read

About 90 per cent of African countries will miss a September target to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of their populations against COVID-19 as a third wave of the pandemic looms on the continent, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official says.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the continent required an extra 225 million doses to be able to vaccinate a tenth of its people by September this year.

Africa has hit five million COVID-19 cases, with the continent's southern region the worst affected, accounting for 37 per cent of total cases.

South Africa is the worst affected African country, with about 34 per cent of the total reported cases and about 43 per cent of all deaths.

The country has officially entered its third wave of COVID-19 infections, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID) said on Thursday, with the continent's worst-hit country registered 9149 new cases.

"With vaccine stocks and shipments drying up, the continent's vaccination coverage for the first dose remains stuck at two per cent and at about one per cent in sub-saharan Africa," Moeti told a weekly news briefing.

"Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can must urgently share COVID-19 vaccines.

"It's do or die on dose sharing for Africa."

Moeti said US President Joe Biden plans to buy and donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to more than 90 countries was an important step in making vaccines available on the continent.

Africa Centres for Disease Control director John Nkengasong said in a separate news conference that 14 African countries were "aggressively" heading towards a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

"You can clearly see that the variant that was identified in India is getting a hold on the continent," he said.

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