…says Africa needs 729 million vaccine doses to meet year-end target

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has named Nigeria among other African countries where cases of the COVID-19 Alpha and Beta variants have been detected.

The Alpha variant with the scientific name B.1.1.7 was first described in the United Kingdom, while the Beta variant with the scientific name B.1.351 was first described in South Africa. Nigeria currently has cases of the Delta variant first identified in India with the lineage B.1.617.2. It was first detected in the country on July 8 according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

In an email exchange with Sunday PUNCH on Saturday, a WHO spokesperson stated that the Alpha variant had been reported in 38 African countries such as Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco and Mozambique.  Others were Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, South Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.

The organisation added that genetic sequencing data showed that the variant was more dominant in countries in the West, North and Central Africa.

WHO also noted that African 22 countries had witnessed cases rise by over 20 per cent for at least two weeks running. It added that the 22 countries that meet the criteria for resurgence included Algeria, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Besides, it stated, “The Beta variant (B.1.351), first described in South Africa, has been detected in 35 African countries including Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Genetic sequencing data show that the Beta variant is more dominant in countries in southern Africa.’’

According to the organisation, the Delta variant has been confirmed in 26 African countries such as Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The NCDC on Wednesday disclosed that Nigeria recorded 747 fresh cases of COVID-19 infections, noting that the cases were the highest in any single day in the last five months.

It stated that Lagos State, the epicentre of COVID-19 in Nigeria, recorded 488 followed by Akwa Ibom 121 cases, Oyo 29, Rivers 25 and Ogun 15.

The New Vaccines Introduction Officer at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, noted on Thursday during a virtual press conference that over 6400 deaths were recorded, a two per cent rise compared with the previous week, with South Africa and Tunisia accounting for over 55 per cent of the fatalities.

WHO disclosed that Africa had received 91 million COVID-19 vaccine doses so far, noting that about 24 million people, just 1.7 per cent of Africa’s population, had been vaccinated.

Atuhebwe said, “The continent needs up to 183 million more doses to fully vaccinate 10 per cent of its population by the end of September and up to 729 million more doses to meet the end-of-year goal of fully vaccinating 30 per cent of Africa’s population. COVAX aims to deliver 520 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021. Almost 90 million of these doses have now been allocated to African countries and will be delivered by the end of September.’’

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