The World Health Organization’s (WHO) regional director for Africa said on Thursday any pause in the continent’s vaccination campaign will lead to “lost lives and lost hope”.
“Africa needs vaccines now,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.
The continent needs at least 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine within six weeks if those who have had their first shot are to get the second in time.
The WHO statement emphasised the importance of following the recommended interval of eight to 12 weeks between doses to ensure the recipient’s prolonged 81% protection rate.
“In addition to this urgent need, another 200 million doses of any WHO Emergency Use Listed Covid-19 vaccine are needed so that the continent can vaccinate 10% of its population by September 2021,” the statement added.
Separately, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) appealed to the international community to provide the required number of vaccine doses to the continent, considering this a “collective security issue”.
“We are not winning the vaccination battle in Africa,” Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said on Thursday during a weekly media briefing in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
“Forty-three million doses of vaccines have been acquired, and 23 million doses have been administered,” he said.
Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination campaigns are facing delays because of the export ban imposed by India, the main supplier of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Covax, the UN-backed scheme that aims to deliver more than two billion doses to 92 of the world’s poorest countries this year. India has halted vaccine exports as it grapples with its devastating resurgence of the disease.
Separately, French President Emmanuel Macron said shipping Covid-19 vaccines to Africa was not just a moral duty but was also in the interest of Europe and the world, in order to prevent the emergence of new virus variants.
Speaking during a trip to Rwanda, Macron said that France was on track to deliver 30 million Covid-19 vaccination doses to Africa by year-end, that Germany would also deliver 30 million doses, and that collectively the EU would deliver more than 100 million doses to Africa this year.
Macron said that he had arrived with 100,000 coronavirus vaccine doses for Rwanda.
As of May 26, Africa had registered more than 4.7 million cases of coronavirus with nearly 130,000 deaths attributed to the virus.