COVID-19: Africa’s end of year vaccination target is a “pipedream”

As Africa records more than 8.3 million COVID-19 cases, the continent continues to suffer from a severe shortage of vaccines. Less than 4% of the continent has been fully vaccinated and fewer doses are expected to be delivered through COVAX after the UN-sharing mechanism announced that it is forced to slash planned COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Africa by 150 million doses this year. At the UN General Assembly last week, African countries pushed for unity and criticized vaccine inequality.

Steven Neri, Africa Regional Director at Project HOPE, made the following statement:

“Eighteen months is enough time to learn lessons. Today, it is well understood that as long as the virus spreads and mutates in some parts of the world, no place will be safe. Ending the COVID-19 pandemic should be a global top priority, it cannot be addressed country by country. Many high-income countries have already vaccinated more than 75% of their populations, while at least 14 African countries have not even immunized one percent of their respective populations.

“With just three months left in the calendar year, the global year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of Africa’s population has now become a pipedream.

“Millions of Africans continue to pay the price of vaccine hoarding and restrictions on export. Their lives are risked daily because they have not received adequate protection against the virus and its variants. About 150 million vaccine doses initially expected to be delivered though COVAX by the end of the year will not reach African countries. This is a huge blow to regional development and security.

“Good intentions and grand speeches don’t save lives, actions do.

“While sharing vaccine is critical, the actual vaccine sharing mechanism has showed its limitations. Out of 5.7 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines administered around the world so far, only 2 percent have been in Africa.

“It is time to rethink the options made available to middle- and low-income countries to more equitably access resources. Instead of providing a third dose of vaccine to fully vaccinated people, countries that have excess doses of vaccine should immediately ship them through COVAX. In the long-term, providing African countries with purchasing power so they can buy vaccine doses and increasing countries’ manufacturing capacity across the continent so more doses can end up into people’s arms should be seriously considered.

“Initiatives by the African Union / African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the A-CDC to pool countries’ purchasing power and buy vaccine doses at cheaper prices have showed great success, but they must be scaled up and more countries should lend their support to these initiatives.

“Many countries have failed the test of global solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 and today African countries are left waiting for lifesaving vaccines while the virus continues to spread and mutate across the region.”

Source: Project HOPE