Five African countries—less than one-fifth of the continent’s 54 nations—are projected to fully vaccinate 40% of their people against COVID-19 until the end of this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.The latest projection comes as the Region grapples to meet rising demand for essential vaccination commodities, such as syringes.
Three African countries, Seychelles, Mauritius and Morocco, have already met the goal that was set in May by the World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy-setting body.
According to the WHO, unless efforts to accelerate the pace take off, only five countries will reach WHO’s mark at the end of 2021.
At the current pace just two more countries, Tunisia and Cabo Verde, will also hit the target, said the Africa office of the UN health agency.
In addition, limited access to crucial commodities such as syringes may slow the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.
UNICEF has reported an imminent shortfall of up to 2.2 billion auto-disable syringes for COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization in 2022. This includes 0.3ml auto-disposable syringes for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination.
There is no global stockpile of the 0.3ml specialized syringes, which differ from the 0.5ml syringes used for other types of COVID-19 vaccines and routine vaccination, according to the WHO.
The market for 0.3ml auto-disable syringes is tight and extremely competitive, it says, causing shortage of supply that will remain at least the first quarter of next year.
Already some African countries, such as Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, have experienced delays in receiving syringes.