The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised concerns over low coronavirus vaccination drive in Africa, saying less than two per cent of the 690 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered globally so far have been in Africa.
The United Nations health agency also decried the situation where most of the African countries received vaccines only five weeks ago and in small quantities.
While 45 African countries have received vaccines, 43 of them have begun vaccinations and nearly 13 million of the 31.6 million doses delivered have been administered.
However, the pace of vaccine rollout is not uniform, the WHO added, noting that 93 per cent of the doses were given in 10 countries.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said that if not properly addressed, the low vaccination drive on the continent poses great danger to Africa.
“Although progress is being made, many African countries have barely moved beyond the starting line,” Moeti told a press conference on Thursday.
She added, “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.”
Once delivered, vaccine rollout in some countries has been delayed by operational and financial hurdles or logistical difficulties such as reaching remote locations.
WHO, on its part, noted that it was supporting countries to tackle the challenges by reinforcing planning and coordination, advocating more financial resources, as well as setting up effective communications strategies to address vaccine hesitancy and misinformation.
It stated that the delays do not only affect vaccine delivery to priority targets, but they also affect the expansion of vaccinations to the rest of the population, some of whom have expressed eagerness to receive the doses.
Meanwhile, the global health body had earlier said that its targets to vaccinate health workers and other priority groups in all countries in the first 100 days of 2021.
“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.
“More than a billion Africans remain on the margins of this historic march to overcome the pandemic,” Dr Moeti said.