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Africa needs to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination six-fold: WHO

WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti.

Brazzaville, Congo | Xinhua | With only 11 percent of the population fully vaccinated in Africa, the vaccination rate on the African continent needs to increase six times to meet the 70 percent target set for mid-2022, warned Thursday the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The world has finally heard our calls. Africa is now accessing the vaccines it has demanded for far too long. This is a dose of hope for this year,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, during a virtual press conference held by WHO regional office for Africa, based in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of the Congo.

As Africa has received more than 587 million vaccine doses, 58 percent through the COVAX Facility, 36 percent from bilateral deals and 6 percent through Africa Vaccines Acquisition Trust (AVAT) of the African Union, increasing deliveries have eased shortages and turned the spotlight on the need for Africa to rapidly ramp up vaccine rollout, highlighted WHO via a statement released on Thursday.

However, African countries are still lagging far behind the rest of the world, as only 11 percent of the African population is fully vaccinated, and a troubling 85 percent have not received a single dose, pointed out Moeti.

Although Mauritius and Seychelles have already met the 70 percent target and seven African countries have vaccinated 40 percent of their population, vaccination rates on the continent remain low.

Twenty-one countries on the continent have fully vaccinated less than 10 percent of their populations, while 16 have vaccinated less than 5 percent and three have fully vaccinated less than 2 percent, according to WHO.

“Currently, countries are vaccinating only about six million people a week. It’s the largest vaccination campaign in the continent’s history, but it’s not enough. That number needs to increase exponentially, to 36 million a week, to put countries on the path to beating this pandemic,” said Moeti.

The continent is now emerging from its fourth pandemic wave driven by the Omicron variant. Cases have declined for the third straight week. Over the past week, cases dropped by 15 percent compared with the week before, while deaths fell slightly by 5 percent.

Despite the overall decline in deaths in the continent, North Africa reported a 25 percent rise in weekly fatalities. So far Africa has recorded over 10.8 million cases and over 239,000 deaths cumulatively.

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Xinhua

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