All but 15 of Africa’s 54 nations have been unable to achieve the goal of fully vaccinating ten per cent of their populations against Covid-19 by now, the United Nations has revealed.
The World Health Assembly had set a global goal of every country getting at least ten per cent of their population fully jabbed by September 30th, but the roll-out has been very uneven across the world, with wealthy countries such as the UK having vaccinated almost 90 per cent of those aged over 16 while many middle and low-income nations lag behind.
According to the UN data, nearly 90 per cent of high income countries have met the target, but in Africa the target has mostly been met by nations with small populations, of which 40 per cent are small island states.
Leading the way are island nations Seychelles and Mauritius with 60 per cent full vaccination, while the highest figure for a country on the continent is Morocco at 48 per cent. Nine of the 15 had reached the goal by the start of September and the other six did so over the course of the month.
By contrast, while 52 of the 54 African nations have received vaccines, half of them have vaccinated two per cent or less of their populations. Overall, of the six billion vaccines administered globally, just two per cent have been given in Africa.
These figures raise questions about how well the global pharmaceuticals sector has been able to meet the needs of poorer nations, although the firms themselves are limited by the extent to which schemes such as Covax – set up to enable wealthier nations to share jabs with poorer countries – have been able to meet their goals.
Indeed, the UN noted that the countries that had met their goals had been able to supplement their Covax supplies with more doses from other sources.
Immunization and Vaccines Development Programme coordinator for the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa Dr Richard Mihigo said the newest data on vaccine provision “showed modest gains”.
However, he added: “There is still a long way to go to reach the WHO target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of the population by the end of the year”
Dr Mihingo concluded: “Shipments are increasing but opaque delivery plans are still the number one nuisance that hold Africa back.”
A recent statement by the Covax Independent Allocation Vaccine Group expressed concerns that supply was projected to decline by 25 per cent in the final quarter of 2021.
It was also worried about the “prioritization of bilateral deals over international collaboration and solidarity, export restrictions and decisions by some countries to administer booster doses to their adult populations. “
The last of these is a contentious issue for some WHO officials and even some scientists in western countries, who have argued the priority for wealthy nations should not be boosters for the double-jabbed, but to vaccinate more people in low-income countries to reduce the spread and thus cut the risk of more variants emerging.
Britain is among those that has announced a booster programme for older and more clinically vulnerable individuals.