COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Africa , from multiple sources, are increasing rapidly after being virtually halted in recent months. Almost 4 million doses of the COVAX Mechanism arrived in Africa last week, compared to just 245,000 doses sent by the Mechanism during the month of June.
COVAX aims to ship 520 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021. Shipments of COVID-19 vaccines from the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Fund (AVAT) are increasing, with a expected increase of 10 million doses per month from September. AVAT is expected to deliver around 45 million doses by the end of the year.
So far, almost 79 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have reached Africa and 21 million people, just 1.6% of Africa’s population, are fully vaccinated. High-income countries administered 61 times more doses per person than low-income countries. To fully immunize 30% of Africa’s adult population by the end of 2021, the continent needs 820 million doses of the vaccine, on a two-dose schedule.
“The light is at the end of the tunnel regarding vaccine deliveries to Africa, but they must not be suspended again. I call on all countries with excess doses to urgently share more in the spirit of vital solidarity and enlightened self-interest, because no country is safe until all countries are. not. I call on African countries to equip themselves and prepare, as our shortage is finally ending, ”said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa.
Tanzania launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign after receiving its first shipment of approximately 1 million doses on July 24, a donation of Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the United States government through COVAX . Tanzania joined COVAX on June 15.
COVAX recently entered into new agreements with Sinopharm and Sinovac to rapidly deliver 110 million additional doses to low-income countries. COVAX and the World Bank stand ready to further boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries through a new cost-shared scheme that allows low-income countries to acquire doses in addition to those fully subsidized by donors that they already receive through COVAX.
The increase in vaccine shipments comes as Africa sees the number of COVID-19 cases decline for the second week in a row, after rising rapidly and continuously for eight weeks. The number of new registered cases fell by 18%, from 282,000 to 230,500 as of July 25. This decrease is largely due to that observed in South Africa, which accounts for 37% of all cases, and Tunisia, which represents 8% of cases.
Twenty-two African countries saw the number of cases rise by more than 20% for at least the two weeks leading up to July 25. Meanwhile, the number of deaths recorded in 17 African countries increased by 6,300 in the same week. The highly transmissible Delta variant has been reported in 26 African countries. The Alpha variant has been detected in 38 countries and the Beta variant in 15 countries.
Africa is still in the throes of a third wave. The limited slowdown in the number of cases is comforting and a source of very cautious optimism, but we are not at all out of the woods. We must all remain vigilant. A third of African countries are experiencing a dangerous resurgence of cases and we must continue to respect the barrier gestures known to save lives, such as wearing a mask, good hand hygiene and physical distancing, ”said Dr Moeti.
Dr Moeti spoke today at an online press conference with the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).