According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the percentage of people who received a complete series of primary vaccinations (one dose for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and two doses for the other vaccines) barely changed in 27 of 54 African countries. in the past two months (August 17 – October 16, 2022).
Although Africa is far from reaching the end-of-year global target of protecting 70% of the population, modest progress has been made in vaccinating high-risk population groups, including the elderly.
22 million doses administered as of October 16, 2022
“The end of the Covid-19 pandemic is in sight, but as long as Africa lags far behind the rest of the world in the generalization of protection, there will be a dangerous gap that the virus can exploit to come back strong,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement.
On the continent, there are signs of improvement this month, with 22 million doses administered as of October 16, 2022, or 95% of the total administered in September. And that’s less than last September when 23 million doses were administered.
This represents 18% less than the number recorded in August, and 51% less than the 47 million doses administered in July. The number of doses delivered last month is also around a third of the peak of 63 million doses reached in February 2022.
Liberia, Mauritius and Seychelles have achieved 70% of people with full vaccination coverage
Overall, as of October 16, 2022, only 24% of the continent’s population had completed their primary series, compared to 64% coverage globally.
Furthermore, Liberia has now joined Mauritius and Seychelles as one of three countries to surpass 70% of people with full immunization coverage. Rwanda is also about to cross this threshold.
Despite this progress, at the current pace of vaccination, Africa is on track to reach the global target of 70% of people having completed their primary series by April 2025.
This stagnation in the deployment of vaccines comes as Africa still remains the continent least affected by the new coronavirus. Over the past 12 weeks, Africa has recorded the lowest number of cases since the start of the pandemic.
Deaths are still low
In the week ending October 16, 4,281 new cases were reported, 1.3% of the peak of the Omicron-fueled outbreak reached in December 2021. According to WHO, no country is currently on resurgence or high alert and deaths remain low in the region, with a case fatality rate of 2.1%.
Based on data from 31 countries, as of October 16, 2022, 40% of African health workers have completed their primary series. In 15 of these countries, over 70% of health workers have been fully immunized, up from 27% at the start of the year.
Thirty-one percent of older adults (50-65+ depending on country age limits) were fully immunized according to data from 27 countries, up from 21% in January 2022.
It should be noted that the African continent received 936 million doses of vaccine, 60% of which came from the UN mechanism, COVAX.