Africa accounts for less than two percent of the 690 million COVID-19 vaccines administered globally so far.
“Although progress is being made, many African countries have barely moved beyond the starting line,’’ Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement issued in Nairobi late on Thursday.
Moeti said limited access to vaccines could derail efforts to contain the pandemic in the continent amid threats posed by the third wave of infections.
“Limited stocks and supply bottlenecks are putting COVID-19 vaccines out of reach of many people in this region.
“Fair access to vaccines must be a reality if we are to collectively make a dent on this pandemic,’’ she added.
Statistics from WHO indicate that 45 African countries have received the COVID-19 vaccine, 43 have begun inoculating high-risk groups while nearly 13 million of the 31.6 million doses delivered so far have been administered.
Moeti said that vaccine rollout in the continent has not been uniform since ten countries have received 93 percent of the doses while logistical and personnel hiccups are undermining mass inoculation against the coronavirus.
“Africa is already playing COVID-19 vaccination catch-up and the gap is widening.
“While we acknowledge the immense burden, placed by the global demand for vaccines, inequity can only worsen scarcity,’’ said Moeti.
“More than a billion Africans remain on the margins of this historic march to overcome the pandemic.’’
However, Africa could still manage to vaccinate at least 20 percent of its population by the end of this year if governments prioritize targeted interventions like training of health workers, improving cold chain infrastructure, and public awareness.
According to African Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, Morocco has emerged as the leader in COVID-19 vaccination in the continent.
The country has administered four million doses to cover nearly 11 percent of its population.
Only Seychelles and Mauritius have acquired enough vaccine doses to reach the 20 per cent vaccination target. (Xinhua/NAN)