Inside Africa’s COVID-19 Vaccine Shortage

Medical workers prep a COVID-19 vaccination center in Tunis, Tunisia. Sept. 4, 2021. Image: Adel Ezzine/Xinhua via Getty
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Medical workers prep a COVID-19 vaccination center in Tunis, Tunisia. Sept. 4, 2021. Image: Adel Ezzine/Xinhua via Getty

By year’s end, just 5 African countries will meet the World Health Assembly goal of fully vaccinating 40% of their populations against COVID-19, WHO Africa said yesterday.
 
Takeaways: 

  • Just 77 million people in Africa (under 6% of Africans) are fully vaccinated.
  • The countries that will meet the goal: Seychelles, Mauritius, Morocco, Tunisia, and Cape Verde.

 
Why? Supply problems, of course. 550 million doses are needed to help 82 countries in the world hit the 40% vaccinated mark, said Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator coordinator Bruce Aylward, per Devex. With 3 billion doses set to be produced by the end of the year, Aylward said just 10 days of production could help the 82 countries meet the goal. 

  • “This is a very solvable problem,” he said. “It’s an issue of the will, and the manufacturers cooperating then to make sure the doses go where they’re needed.”

 
2 more problems:
 

  • By the end of 2022, the world is facing a shortage of up to 2.2 billion of the auto-disposable syringes required to administer Covid-19 vaccines, UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement. The syringes that lock automatically to prevent reuse are considered critical for safety in low- and middle-income countries. The UN doesn’t anticipate a shortage of standard syringes.
  • Enough vaccine substance for 30 million to 50 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits in a Baltimore plant awaiting US FDA approval to be shipped, Reuters reports
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