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The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said residents of the African continent were “left behind” in the global vaccination campaign against Covid-19, after Africa’s health chief said only 3.5% were vaccinated.

Speaking on Tuesday, WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus once again highlighted vaccine inequality issues, warning in particular that Africa “Abandoned by the rest of the world”. He added that this gap would allow the virus to continue to circulate.

Ghebreyesus was speaking at the same briefing as John Nkengasong, the director of the African Centers for Disease Control, who said less than 3.5% of people across the continent have been vaccinated against Covid-19. This figure is well below the official African CDC target of 60% Africans.

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The announcements come after it was reported that US President Joe Biden would call for a united effort to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population against Covid-19 next year, at a virtual summit to be held next week . The difficulty of achieving such a figure is compounded by the fact that less than 70% of Americans are currently vaccinated.

Globally, only 43% of people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The UK also announced on Tuesday that its recall program for those over 50 will begin in days as the country tries to avoid another dangerous wave of the virus. While the UK government has said it will share injections with poorer countries, the booster program comes as 89.2% of Britons over the age of 16 have been vaccinated against the virus.

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