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Continent not winning against ‘brutal’ COVID-19 pandemic – Africa CDC

Africa CDC director, John Nkengasong, on Thursday, June 24, 2021 said Africa is not winning its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as a third virus wave sweeps the continent.

Dr. John Nkengasong
Africa CDC Director, Dr. John Nkengasong

Nkengasong, during a weekly online briefing, said African countries are still struggling to access enough vaccines for their populations.

He said he was more worried about getting vaccines in time, regardless of where the doses came from.

“The third wave has come with severity that most countries were not prepared for. So the third wave is extremely brutal.

“Let me put it bluntly, we are not winning in Africa this battle against the virus so it does not really matter to me whether the vaccines are from COVAX or anywhere. All we need is rapid access to vaccines.’’

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Nkengasong said at least 20 countries were in the middle of the third wave, with Zambia, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo among those whose health facilities were being overwhelmed.

About 1.12 per cent people has been fully vaccinated on a continent that has recorded 5.2 million infections, Nkengasong said.

The WHO’s Africa head Matshidiso Moeti said Africa’s third wave is spreading faster and hitting the continent harder, “the latest surge threatens to be Africa’s worst yet.’’

Moeti said cases are outpacing vaccinations and the continent desperately and urgently needed COVID-19 drugs.

“We need a sprint, not a saunter, to rapidly protect those facing the biggest risks.’’

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Moeti also urged countries not to restrict Africans from travelling based on their vaccination status alone.

She said that only four of the eight vaccines listed by WHO for emergency use are recognised by the European Medicines Agency for the passport system.

“Let’s not add injury to injustice,” Moeti said in a statement later.

“Africans must not face more restrictions because they are unable to access vaccines that are only available elsewhere.”

According to the WHO, Globally, around 2.7 billion doses have been administered, of which just under 1.5 per cent has been administered on the continent.

However, and official from WHO on Monday said more than half of poorer countries receiving doses via COVAX do not have enough supplies to continue.

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Internal documents seen by Reuters showed that COVAX programme co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for fair distribution of vaccines is planning a shake-up as it has been shunned by rich countries.

It had failed to meet the needs of the poorest.

The COVAX programme’s initial lofty ambitions to act as a clearing house for the world’s vaccines, collecting from manufacturers in the most developed countries and quickly distributing to those in the most urgent need, have fallen flat.

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