DAKAR, Senegal (HPD) — The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Africa has dropped more than 50% in the past three months, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday, even though fewer than a quarter of all Africans have been vaccinated.
Despite greater availability of vaccines on the continent already, Africa still lags far behind the global average, with only 24% of the population having completed their core COVID-19 vaccination series compared to the 64% worldwide.
“The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight, but while Africa lags far behind the rest of the world in achieving widespread protection, there is a dangerous gap that the virus can exploit to come back with a vengeance,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Only three countries — Liberia, Mauritius and Seychelles — have vaccinated more than 70% of their population. Rwanda is expected to reach the benchmark soon, and four others have also reached 50%, the WHO said on Thursday.
Once vaccines became available in 2021, Western countries stockpiled available supplies, leaving many African countries at the bottom of the waiting list. Some African countries also said doses donated by Western countries were shipped too close to their expiration dates to be used all.
Africa now has adequate vaccines available, Moeti said Thursday. But as the number of cases has dropped, so has interest in getting vaccinated. Only 4,281 new cases were reported on the continent last week, down 1.3% compared to Africa during December 2021, the WHO said.
“Unfortunately, since vaccines have helped prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, people are less afraid and also less willing to get vaccinated,” Moeti said.