Africa faces 470 million COVID-19 vaccine shortfall in 2021

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Africa faces 470 million COVID-19 vaccine shortfall in 2021
WHO – Africa Region
16 September 2021
Brazzaville – As the COVAX Facility is forced to slash planned COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Africa by around 150 million this year, the continent faces almost 500 million doses short of the global year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of its population. This shortfall comes as Africa tops 8 million COVID-19 cases this week.

With the cutback COVAX is now expected to deliver 470 million doses to Africa this year. These will be enough to vaccinate just 17% of the population, far below the 40% target. An additional 470 million doses are needed to reach the end-year target even if all planned shipments via COVAX, a multilateral initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, and the African Union are delivered.

“Export bans and vaccine hoarding have a chokehold on vaccine supplies to Africa. As long as rich countries lock COVAX out of the market, Africa will miss its vaccination goals. The huge gap in vaccine equity is not closing anywhere near fast enough. It is time for vaccine manufacturing countries to open the gates and help protect those facing the greatest risk,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

As export bans, challenges in boosting production at COVAX manufacturing sites and delays in filing for regulatory approvals for new vaccines constrain deliveries, COVAX has called for donor countries to share their supply schedules to give more clarity on deliveries.

COVAX has also called for countries with enough vaccines to give up their place in the queue for deliveries.Manufacturers must deliver to COVAX in line with firm commitments, and countries that are well-advanced with vaccinations must expand and accelerate donations, ensuring doses are available in larger, more predictable volumes and with longer shelf lives.

About 95 million more doses are set to arrive in Africa via COVAX throughout September, which will be the largest shipment the continent receives for any month so far. Yet even as deliveries pick up, Africa has been able to fully vaccinate just 50 million people, or 3.6% of its people.

Around 2% of the nearly 6 billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa. The European Union and the United Kingdom have vaccinated over 60% of their people and high-income countries have administered 48 times more doses per person than low-income nations.

“The staggering inequity and severe lag in shipments of vaccines threatens to turn areas in Africa with low vaccination rates into breeding grounds for vaccine-resistant variants. This could end up sending the whole world back to square one,” said Dr Moeti…