Logistical challenges hamper COVID-19 vaccination drives in Africa
* Deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa have picked up
* But many countries' vaccination programmes face problems
* Small percentage of Africa's population fully vaccinated
(Updates with WHO Africa's comment, graphic)
By Maggie Fick
NAIROBI, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Many African nations are
struggling with the logistics of accelerating their COVID-19
inoculation campaigns as deliveries of vaccines to the continent
finally pick up, the head of Africa's disease control body said
Only 6.6% of Africa's population of 1.2 billion is fully
vaccinated, John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for
Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), told a virtual news
That means Africa is far from reaching the African Union's
aim of fully vaccinating 70% of people by the end of 2022, he
"What we are seeing now is a lot more vaccines coming in and
the uptake is challenged because of the logistics and delivery,"
said Nkengasong. "It's not necessarily about hesitancy, it's
about moving vaccines from the airport to the arms (of people),
it's about logistics."
Africa's slow absorption of the vaccines is also affecting
the health sector, where only one in four workers has been fully
vaccinated, the World Health Organization's Africa office said.
"Unless our doctors, nurses and other frontline workers get
full protection, we risk a blowback in the efforts to curb this
disease," Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa,
told a separate briefing.
Nkengasong said Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon
faced particular logistical challenges.
Congo has administered about 168,000 doses of COVID-19
vaccines, a Reuters tracker showed, enough to have fully
vaccinated 0.1% of the population.
In April, authorities reallocated to other African countries
most of the 1.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/congo-lose-13-mln-covid-19-shots-after-delayed-distribution-2021-04-26
that Congo had received a month earlier from the COVAX
vaccine-sharing facility because they were set to expire.
Across Africa, authorities successfully conduct routine mass
vaccination campaigns against diseases such as measles. But many
struggled earlier in the year https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/cash-strapped-africa-overwhelmed-by-covid-vaccine-challenge-2021-04-21
when COVID-19 doses arrived, citing shortages of funding,
training and cold storage.
Of some 403 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed
to 54 African countries, 55% -- or 221 million -- have been
South Africa has asked Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and Pfizer
(PFE.N) to delay delivery of more COVID-19 vaccines because it
now has too many in stock, Reuters reported on Wednesday https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/exclusive-south-africa-delays-covid-vaccine-deliveries-inoculations-slow-2021-11-24.
Namibia warned on Thursday that more than 268,000 doses of
AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines were at risk of
being destroyed, some as early as next week, due to slow uptake.
(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Additional reporting by Duncan
Miriri; Editing by Gareth Jones and Timothy Heritage)
First Published: 2021-11-25 13:29:46
Updated 2021-11-25 14:20:26
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