Voicing concern over the dire situation in Africa due to a new COVID-19 strain, the World Health Organization said Thursday that the distribution of the vaccine against the virus “has been inequitable.”
“With an average daily new case count of more than 25,000 in the last 14 days, Africa is experiencing a second wave which is higher than the peak experienced last July,” WHO African Region tweeted.
— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) January 14, 2021
“It’s unfortunate that so far vaccine distribution has been inequitable, but this is a massive undertaking & takes time. The COVAX Facility aims to provide around 600 million doses for Africa in 2021,” the tweet added, referring to the global effort to help lower-income countries get the shots.
The WHO said it expects the first doses of the vaccine to arrive “by the end of March, with a larger rollout by June.”
“However, COVAX can only cover 20% of the African population,” it said.
It hailed the African Union for it is efforts to secure a provisional 270 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021.
Highlighting the threat of the new COVID-19 strain, the WHO said according to preliminary analysis, the strain circulating in South Africa is causing a surge in new infections in the country as well as in three other African countries — Botswana, Gambia, and Zambia.
“Frankly, we think it could be present in more countries than that,” WHO Africa Region said.
Since December 2019, COVID-19 has claimed more than 1.98 million lives in 191 countries and regions, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University. More than 92.48 million people have been infected.