WEDNESDAY September 15, 2021 (HealthDay News) – In Africa, only 4% of people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Leaders once hoped that 60% of people living on the continent would be vaccinated this year.
It now seems unlikely.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners have said they hope to provide African countries with 30% of the vaccines the continent needs by February, Associated press reported.
Most of the 5.7 billion doses of vaccine administered worldwide so far have been in just 10 wealthy countries, as the UN-backed COVAX initiative has missed all of its targets. COVAX is now begging rich countries to share their vaccine doses, the PA noted.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the Gavi vaccine alliance, told the PA COVAX expects 1.4 billion doses to be ready for delivery by the end of 2021, about a quarter below its original target.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that the disparity between rich and poor countries in terms of the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is a “solvable problem”.
He called on pharmaceutical companies to share their vaccines globally. Tedros also called for a moratorium on booster injections in healthy people until the end of 2021.
The richer countries seem to ignore his plea. The UK said on Tuesday it will offer recalls to people over 50, as well as younger and vulnerable people, joining Israel, France and Germany, who have already started their recall efforts. A US Food and Drug Administration advisory group will meet this week to look at the issue of boosters for Americans.
The move in some countries towards a boosters deployment comes even as new reports cast doubt on the need for a third injection in healthy people. In fact, earlier this week, two senior FDA officials and senior WHO scientists helped write an opinion piece in The Lancet expressing its opposition to boosters.
The issue of boosters in Africa is a costly issue that would require an additional $ 500-600 million “on the conservative side,” Afreximbank chairman Benedict Oramah said, and with logistics $ 1 billion a year. African Union COVID-19 vaccine envoy Strive Masiyiwa said export restrictions and intellectual property rights should be lifted to allow vaccine production in Africa. WHO and its partners prepared for this in June by launching a hub in South Africa that could manufacture the vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
However, none of the companies have agreed to share the vaccine recipes and they show no indication that they will, according to the report. PA.
“This is not an unreasonable call, as our neighbors in the United States have supported these companies to produce some of these vaccines,” Masiyiwa said. “Now, may this miracle be available to all of humanity.”
The World Health Organization details COVID-19 around the world.
THE SOURCE: Associated press, September 14, 2021