translated from Spanish: WHO: Booster doses threaten Covid-19 vaccination in Africa

The introduction of booster doses in the most developed countries threatens the progress of vaccination against covid-19 in Africa and hoarding is a “mockery” regarding the purposes of global and equitable access to immunization, the World Health Organization (WHO) denounced today.” Just as our efforts seem to be taking off, Africa is encountering headwinds. The movements of some countries globally to introduce booster doses threaten the promise of a better tomorrow for Africa,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti lamented at a virtual press conference today. By hoarding vaccines, some rich countries are, frankly, making a mockery of vaccine equity,” he added. In particular, so far only 1.85% of the 1,200 million Africans have the full vaccination schedule, following a very slow start to immunization campaigns due to problems of access to anti-covid formulas. The African health authorities, despite this, were optimistic in recent weeks about a change of pace from this Month of August thanks to a significant increase in the reception of doses, with shipments from the African Union (AU) – through a collective procurement mechanism – and with a new impetus of the covax equitable access platform, driven by WHO. For this reason, if there are no surprises, Moeti expressed confidence that the goal of vaccinating at least 30% of the African population by the end of this year is “still within reach”. That number, however, will continue to stand in close contrast to the figures for regions such as Europe or the United States, which have already fully vaccinated more than half of their population and already consider or have plans for the inoculation of booster doses. In that regard, Moeti wished that at least “hopefully” those extra vaccines would not come out of the stocks promised by developed countries for donations, but still admitted that who is “concerned” about the negative impact that a new wave of demand could have on supplies for the most vulnerable nations.” As long as limited access to vaccines continues in Africa, we share the global risk of generating more variants that could undo the benefits of booster doses,” he recalled. The WHO regional director for Africa, however, separated herself from the controversy generated in recent weeks by the export from a South African production plant – which has an agreement with the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson and which is key to continental supplies – of doses to developed countries, understanding that they are part of previous agreements with the vaccine producer. However, Moeti considered the local manufacture of vaccines key to Africa’s efforts against the pandemic – and to the future of continental vaccination in general – and again praised the efforts already made in this regard by countries such as Egypt or South Africa itself.To date, Africa has accumulated just over 7.3 million cases of covid-19 (with 186,367 deaths) and many of the nations in the region are currently immersed in a harsh third major wave of contagion driven by the delta variant, which emerged in India.

Original source in Spanish

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