According to the World Health Organization (WHO) nearly four million doses of coronavirus vaccines from the UN-partnered COVAX initiative arrived in Africa last week, compared with just 245,000 for all of June. 

Reminding that the continent is still “in the throes of the pandemic’s third wave”, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, told a virtual press conference with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, “we are not out of the woods yet”. 

WHO said that it hoped COVAX would ship 520 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021, in addition to more shots from other sources, including deliveries from the African Union, which is expected to supply around 45 million jabs by the end of the year. 

In total, almost 79 million vaccine doses have reached Africa but only 21 million people, or just 1.6 per cent of Africa’s population, are fully vaccinated.  

“We are beginning to see positive signs as vaccine deliveries to Africa are picking up pace after nearly coming to a halt”, said Dr. Moeti. 

Around 30 countries have used more than three-quarters of the vaccines they received, according to WHO. 

Despite the vaccine supply crunch, seven countries, including Equatorial GuineaMauritius, Morocco and Seychelles, have reached vaccination rates significantly above the continental average. 

“Considering a two-dose schedule, as is the case with most COVID-19 vaccines, 820 million vaccine doses are needed to reach the target of fully vaccinating 30 per cent of Africa’s population by the end of this year”, explained the UN official.

Africa still needs more than 700 million doses to reach this target. 

To this end, COVAX has sealed deals with Sinopharm and Sinovac to immediately supply 110 million doses to low-income countries, of which 32.5 million are destined for Africa.  

“These doses have been allocated to countries this week and will be delivered as soon as countries are ready to receive them”, said Dr. Moetim, according UN News.

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