NAIROBI, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Africa requires at least 20 million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses in the next six weeks to enable the continent to deliver second shots to populations that received their first doses, said a World Health Organization (WHO) regional official Thursday.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said during a virtual press briefing hosted by WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, that the continent requires additional vaccine doses as a matter of urgency amid supply crunch that has stalled inoculation targeting high-risk groups.
"As supplies dry up, dose-sharing is an urgent, critical and short-term solution to ensuring that Africans at the greatest risk of COVID-19 get the much-needed protection," Moeti said in a statement.
Statistics from Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the continent has acquired 43.5 million vaccine doses and has administered 28.2 million as of Wednesday.
While saying that an additional 200 million doses of any of the WHO emergency use listed COVID-19 vaccines are needed to immunize 10 percent of African population by September, Moeti believed that the urgency to vaccinate a critical mass of the African population is informed by emergence of highly contagious variants that threaten to overrun already fragile health systems.
According to Moeti, the continent is staring at the possibility of new surges hence the need to speed up immunization of vulnerable segments of the population like the elderly and terminally ill.
She called upon wealthy nations to expedite donation of extra vaccine doses to the COVAX facility in order to enable African countries to fully immunize citizens.
Moeti said WHO is helping African countries to establish structures for facilitating domestic manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines in the light of global supply crunch.
According to Moeti, 54 African countries have endorsed a resolution to strengthen local vaccine production through transfer of knowledge, technology and innovation alongside waiver of patents owned by multinational pharmaceutical firms. Enditem