NAIROBI, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Massive inoculation against the COVID-19 disease in Africa is almost grinding to a halt amid limited finances and inability to acquire additional vaccine doses linked to the crisis in India, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Thursday.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa decried the rampant shortage of the vaccine in the continent that has jeopardized efforts to contain the pandemic and pave way for a return to normalcy.
"As people living in richer countries hit the reset button this summer and their lives start to look normal, in Africa our lives will stay on hold," Moeti said during a webinar on the economic impact of COVID-19 and the financing of vaccines in Africa organized by WHO, World Bank, and World Economic Forum.
She said that a large-scale roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine is key to achieve herd immunity in Africa and restore livelihoods devastated by the pandemic. However, the vaccine deliveries to Africa through the COVAX facility have encountered huge bottlenecks as the Serum Institute of India where they are sourced divert them for domestic use.
According to Moeti, the continent received nearly a quarter or 18.2 million of the 66 million doses expected through COVAX between February and May. She said that inadequate investments in cold chain facilities and training of health workers have also stalled the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa where only eight countries have administered all their vaccines while 20 countries have administered less than 50 percent of doses they had acquired.
Moeti called on African countries to prioritize domestic resource mobilization and explore diverse sources of COVID jabs to help expand immunization coverage.
Statistics from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) indicate that a total of over 39 million vaccine doses had been acquired and 24 million administered in the continent as of May 17.
Richard Mihigo, WHO Africa's Immunization and Vaccines Development Programme Coordinator, said that continental blocs are negotiating with different vaccine manufacturers to plug a shortfall in the life-saving commodity. Enditem