Africa’s Rapid, Less Severe Surge

New COVID-19 cases in Africa soared 83% in the past week, WHO said earlier today, warning that countries will continue to struggle to access vaccines into 2024. 

  • New cases for the week ending on December 12 topped 196,000, up from 107,000 the previous week.
  • The Omicron- and Delta-fueled wave of cases appears to be less severe than previous waves—the 3,000 deaths in the current wave’s first 3 weeks are about half as many in the same period of the third wave.

But: Health officials are worried about prospects for the coming years as WHO released new forecasts showing that Africa won’t reach 70% vaccination coverage until August 2024. 

  • Only 6 African countries have achieved the year-end goal of fully vaccinating 40% of their population.

Latest data: A study 211,000 positive coronavirus cases (nearly a third of which were Omicron cases) by South Africa’s largest health insurer found:

  • The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provided just 33% protection against infection and 70% protection against severe complications requiring hospitalization.

Vaccines wasted: A Nigerian health official announced they will destroy about 1 million doses of expired COVID-19 vaccines because they arrived with a shelf life of only weeks, according to Reuters.

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