Vaccine, Oxygen Shortages ‘Prolonging the Pain’ of Covid-19 in Africa

Motorcyclists carry oxygen cylinders in Kampala, Uganda, June 13, 2021. Image: Nicholas Kajoba/Xinhua via Getty
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Motorcyclists carry oxygen cylinders in Kampala, Uganda, June 13, 2021. Image: Nicholas Kajoba/Xinhua via Getty

A deadly third wave of COVID-19 is gathering force across many African countries powered by weak observance of public health measures, increased social activity, and the spread of variants, the WHO reports—as well as shortages of oxygen and vaccines, and the indifference of wealthier countries. 

  • Cases have risen for 5 weeks in a row as the virus resurges in 12 countries.

  • As of June 20—48 days into the new wave—Africa has logged ~474,000 new cases.

  • The Delta variant, now dominant in DRC and Uganda, has been reported in 14 countries.

 
“The numbers don’t look good” for Uganda, reports NPR Goats and Soda’s Jason Beaubien. Daily reported infections have increased tenfold, hospitals are overflowing, and demand for medical oxygen vastly outstrips the country’s production capacity.
 
The Response: The WHO is deploying more experts to Uganda and other hard-hit countries, including Zambia, and supporting regional laboratories monitoring variants of concern. But a vaccine crunch persists.
 
“Vaccine shortages are already prolonging the pain of COVID-19 in Africa. Let’s not add injury to injustice,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, at a virtual press conference yesterday, noting that while wealthy countries with high vaccine coverage revel in loosened restrictions, just over 1% of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated.

Globally, out of ~2.7 billion doses, just under 1.5% have been administered across Africa.

The Quote: “It’s not a question of if this was a moral failure, it was deliberate. Those with the resources pushed their way to the front of the queue and took control of their production assets,” African Union special envoy Strive Masiyiwa told a CNBC panel discussion Wednesday, The Guardian reports.

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