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Nigeria, 41 others risk missing crucial COVID-19 vaccination target

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Matshidiso Moeti

Despite efforts by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), African Union (AU) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria and 41 other African nations are at risk of missing the crucial global target of vaccinating 10 per cent of their most vulnerable population against COVID-19 by the end of this month.

A new World Health Organisation (WHO) release, yesterday, after a virtual conference on vaccination in Africa, showed that 42 of one continent’s 54 nations – nearly 80 per cent – are set to miss the goal if the current vaccine deliveries and inoculation subsist.

The information observed that nine African countries, including South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia, have already achieved the target set in May by the World Health Assembly. At the current pace, three others are at the verge of joining the club. Two more could also be part of the team if they speed up immunisation.

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WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, at the virtual press conference facilitated by APO Group, said: “With less than a month to go, this looming goal must concentrate minds in Africa and globally. Vaccine hoarding has held Africa back and we urgently need more vaccines, but as more doses arrive, African countries must zero in and drive forward precise plans to rapidly vaccinate the millions of people that still face a grave threat from COVID-19.”

She was joined by Deputy Director General, National Health Insurance, Department of Health, South Africa, Dr. Nicholas Crisp and Director of Immunisations, Ministry of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs, Niger, Dr. Assan Abdoul Nasser.

Also on hand to respond to questions were Coordinator, Immunisation and Vaccines Development Programme, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Richard Mihigo and Regional COVID-19 Deputy Incident Manager, Dr. Thierno Balde.

According to the fresh data, almost 21 million vaccines arrived Africa via the COVAX facility in August, an amount that equalled the supplies of the previous four months.

“With more vaccines expected from COVAX and the African Union by the end of September, we could see enough doses delivered to meet the 10 per cent target,” the information noted.

While many African nations have sped vaccination, as jab shipments ramped up last month, 26 of them have used less than half of their doses.

Over 143 million shots have been received in Africa and 39 million people – around just three per cent of the continent’s population – are fully vaccinated. In comparison, 52 per cent of citizens are fully immunised in the United States and 57 per cent in the European Union (EU).

WHO said countries must continue to address operational gaps and continually improve, adapt and refine their COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.

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