Vaccination remains Africa’s best defence against COVID-19

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, says vaccination remains the continent’s best defence against the COVID-19 pandemic to regain control of socio-economic life.

Addressing a virtual news conference to mark two years since the continent recorded its first COVID-19 case, the Regional Director said Africa could be on its way out of the pandemic if leaders accelerated the uptake of vaccines among citizens.

“We now have steady supply of vaccines on the continent and we must ensure that it is translated to actual shots in people’s arms,” she charged.

According to Dr Moeti, while over 672 million vaccines have been received on the continent so far with many countries considering booster shots, only 11 per cent of Africa’s adult population were fully vaccinated whereas 85 per cent were yet to receive a single shot.

This, she noted, was way below immunity levels achieved in other parts of the world, adding that “countries need to get behind the push to vaccinate 70 per cent of their population by mid-year of 2022 to restore normal socio-economic life on the continent.”

“As we stand here today, we are able to say that if current trends hold, there is light at the end of the tunnel as long as we remain vigilant, the continent is on track to controlling the pandemic,” she stated.

Dr Moeti intimated that moving forward, countries would have to be keen on reducing and controlling incidence of the infection to promptly prevent, diagnose and treat cases to mitigate consequences of COVID-19.

Of key concern, she said there was the need to strengthen community-based response interventions, decentralise genome sequencing, reinforce case management capacity at all levels of health system and enhance regional collaboration.

“We need to maintain the grounds well that we’re now seeing in support of local manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Increased access and affordability is the only solution to the vaccine inequity witness since the start of this pandemic.  

“February 14, 2022 will mark two years since Africa recorded its first COVID-19 case. Over the last two years, the continent has witnessed four waves of COVID-19 and several new variants of the virus, each with higher peaks or more total new cases than the previous one,” Dr Moeti stated.

Over 11 million cases have been recorded, with about 10.1 million recoveries and 242,000 deaths recorded cumulatively.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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