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Africa in desperate struggle as COVAX stalls

4 October 20210 comments

Vaccination rates have stalled in Africa, just as countries face a deadly fourth wave of COVID-19 driven by the virulent Delta variant, reports say.

So far, less than four per cent of Africans have been fully vaccinated, according to the New Humanitarian website.

The COVAX vaccine sharing initiative had aimed to reach 40 percent of Africans by the end of this year, but that target is unlikely to be met until March next year because of a shortfall of 470 million doses of vaccine.

India’s decision to stop vaccine exports has particularly affected the COVAX pipeline. And there have also been delivery delays in bilateral deals, even when African governments have paid up front.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has blamed nations hoarding vaccines for the situation.

“Export bans and vaccine hoarding have a chokehold on vaccine supplies to Africa. As long as rich countries lock COVAX out of the market, Africa will miss its vaccination goals,” the WHO said.

Meanwhile, the pandemic’s economic cost continues to ripple through the continent. Every month of lockdowns costs $US29 billion in lost production, according to the Economic Commission for Africa – exacerbating a looming problem over debt servicing.

Seven African countries in particular are currently battling a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 43 more are in the midst of a third wave, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.

A fourth virus wave is currently gripping Algeria, Benin, Kenya, Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritius and Somalia, Africa CDC said.

Some 37 countries in Africa have reported the Delta variant and two countries have the Gamma variant.

The number of cases recorded on the continent is now close to 8.1 million, with deaths at 204,821 and recoveries over 7.4 million, according to latest figures from the Africa CDC.

Africa’s deaths to cases ratio represents 4.4 per cent of global deaths. Sudan, Somalia, and Egypt have fatality rates of above 5 per cent.

South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Ethiopia account for over 60 per cent of Africa’s caseload.

Of the five geographical regions in Africa, Southern Africa has recorded over 3.8 million cases, North Africa 2.5 million, East Africa 948,500, West Africa 631,500, and Central Africa has 227,800 cases.

At least 106,800 people have died of COVID-19 in Southern Africa, 65,900 in North Africa, 16,900 in East Africa, 9,200 in West Africa, and 3,200 in Central Africa.

In terms of vaccines, Africa has so far received 167.5 million doses and administered around 122.4 million.