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90% of Africa at risk of missing immunisation targets

Credit: Belga

Nearly 90% of African countries will not meet the global target of vaccinating one-tenth of their population by September unless they urgently receive at least 225 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Thursday.

“Only seven African countries (out of 54) have a chance of reaching the target,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa director, told an online news conference.

At least 225 million doses of vaccine are urgently needed for the majority of countries to meet the deadline, she added.

Africa has officially recorded nearly five million cases of Covid-19 and is under imminent threat of a third wave. According to the WHO, new infections are increasing “week by week.”

“The pandemic is on the rise in ten African countries, including four that have seen a jump of more than 30%” in the number of infections over the past week, the organisation warned in a statement.

Nearly three-quarters of the new cases were recorded in Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. More than half were in nine southern African countries.

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Africa accounts for about 1% of the more than 2.1 billion doses administered worldwide. Only 2% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have received a dose and only 9.4 million Africans are fully vaccinated.

“Despite recent pledges, only France has increased its donations through Covax, with 1 million doses going to eight countries in June,” said the WHO, which is also counting on the planned announcement of a half-billion-dollar donation of vaccines from the United States.

The WHO has once again urged the richest countries to share the vaccines, as it is a matter of “life and death,” said Dr. Moeti.

While deliveries have almost come to a halt on the continent, 14 African countries have already used between 80% and all of the doses received through the Covax mechanism, which allows low- and middle-income economies to access vaccines.

The Brussels Times