Facebook Twitter

A ‘moral catastrophe’: How Africa’s vaccination efforts fell so far behind

Here’s the reality of vaccine inequality.

SHARE A ‘moral catastrophe’: How Africa’s vaccination efforts fell so far behind
An elderly patient receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Orange Farm, near Johannesburg.

In this June 3, 2021, file photo, an elderly patient receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Orange Farm, near Johannesburg, South Africa.

Denis Farrell, Associated Press

Across a continent of 1.3 billion people, only 31 million Africans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccines — which is less than 2%. Africa’s vaccination campaigns have fallen far behind the rest of the world in a “moral catastrophe,” reports The Associated Press.

  • The third wave of infections has begun with 14 African countries seeing a surge in cases, eight with cases rising by more than 30%, according to The Guardian.
  • Health officials are worried that COVID-19 devastation in Africa could be similar to or worse than in India which has a more robust health care system than many African countries, reported The Guardian.

Officials in Africa’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention continue to plea for higher-income countries to share vaccines. Many in poorer countries have warned about vaccine inequality since last year, said the AP.

What is vaccination like across Africa?

According to a recent report from the AP, the continent faces a shortage of 700 million vaccines. But the rollouts of those vaccines have stalled across the continent:

  • Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, has vaccinated 0.1% of its population of 200 million.
  • South Africa, the country with the highest COVID-19 caseload and largest economy, has vaccinated only 0.8% of its population. Many health care workers have still not received vaccinations, the AP said.
  • Chad, in North-Central Africa, administered its first vaccines this weekend.

According to the African CDC, per the AP, five countries have administered no vaccines. These countries include Tanzania, Burundi, Chad and Eritrea, according to The Guardian.

  • Globally, officials have administered an average of 23 vaccine doses per 100 people, reported CTV News.
  • In higher-income countries, the average is 62 doses per 100 people.
  • In Africa, the average is one dose per 100 people, said CTV News.

Why is vaccination lagging?

Many countries in Africa have struggled to secure vaccine doses for their populations. Richer countries have bought up vaccine supplies, said The Guardian.

  • Vaccine shipments into Africa have come to a “near halt,” reported the AP.

The World Health Organization established a vaccine-equity initiative — COVAX — to provide vaccine shipments to lower-income countries, reported The Guardian. The initiative has failed to provide a substantial number of shots to African countries.

What will boost vaccination in Africa?

Tuesday, Mastercard Foundation and Africa’s CDC announced a collaborative effort to acquire and deliver vaccines across the continent. The $1.3 billion initiative — called The Saving Lives and Livelihoods Project — will invest in domestic vaccine manufacturing, reported CNN.

  • Calls for more support from richer countries continue ahead of this week’s G-7 Summit, said the AP.

The U.S. already pledged to donate 25 million vaccines to countries in need worldwide, with only 5 million of those going to Africa, reported the AP.