Only 3.18% of the 1.3 billion people in Africa received the full course of the coronavirus vaccine.
These delays are due to the shortage of available doses, but also to the distrust of a part of the population towards vaccines.
“We cannot continue to politicize this situation by making statements that do not lead to firm commitments,” said the director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong.
“Promises do not rain vaccines,” he stressed at an online press conference, the AFP news agency reported.
The major G7 powers pledged in June to share 1 billion coronavirus vaccines with developing countries, instead of the 130 million promised in February.
The G7 plan also includes commitments to prevent future pandemics, such as reducing vaccine development and certification times, strengthening global surveillance and the World Health Organization (WHO).
But according to Nkengasong, the arrival of the promised doses has yet to materialize in Africa.
“We have not seen a billion vaccines,” he said, denouncing a “vaccine diplomacy according to which people make speeches in the media that are ultimately not reflected in reality.”
Yesterday, the WHO urged rich countries to prioritize the distribution of the first doses to health professionals and vulnerable populations in the poorest countries, rather than providing booster doses to their own citizens.
According to his estimates, Africa will need 1.5 billion doses of vaccines to immunize 60% of its inhabitants.
The regional authorities of the WHO ruled out today that the goal of having 10% of the African population vaccinated by the end of September, as had been proposed, will be achieved due to the lack of access to doses.
“If producer countries and companies prioritize vaccine equity, this pandemic could end soon,” emphasized the WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, in a virtual press conference.
“We will not win this war against the pandemic if we do not quickly vaccinate everyone,” Nkengasong insisted. “Otherwise, we will have to prepare to live with this virus as an endemic disease,” he concluded.
Despite the slow progress of immunization, from the WHO they were optimistic about the fulfillment of the next great goal: to achieve 40% of vaccinated by the end of this year.
Across Africa, where the death toll surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday, the number of cases is increasing at an alarming rate.
However, the WHO today considered that the third wave of infections in Africa took a “downward trend.”
Moeti indicated that this is a “23% decrease in new cases in the last week.”
In any case, Moeti recalled that infection rates are still high and that the maximums of this latest wave of infections – registered in July – were very high and prolonged, largely due to the effects of the Delta variant.