WHO Africa: Booster injections for COVID-19 create a “mockery” of equality

The World Health Organization’s Africa chief says affluent nations’ choice to roll out COVID-19 booster injections when so many people in Africa remain unvaccinated “threatens the continent’s promise of a brighter destiny.”

Rich countries’ decisions to roll out COVID-19 booster shots while so many people remain unvaccinated endanger the continent’s promise of a brighter future, the World Health Organization’s Africa director said Thursday, warning that “as some wealthier countries hoard vaccines, they make a mockery of vaccine equity.”

Matshidiso Moeti and other African health experts, notably the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have recently advised against booster injections, citing the fact that less than 2% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are completely vaccinated against COVID-19.

Moeti highlighted that while the continent’s recent rise of infections is tapering off and additional vaccine doses are now coming, “Africa is experiencing headwinds” as wealthy countries such as the United States opt to send out booster injections.

WHO Africa: Booster injections for COVID-19 create a "mockery" of equality
WHO Africa: Booster injections for COVID-19 create a “mockery” of equality

Africa’s position is “very precarious,” she added since the more contagious delta form has taken hold in the majority of the continent’s 54 countries. Over 7.3 million cases have been verified throughout the continent, with over 186,000 fatalities, and health institutions are strained to deliver medical oxygen and other treatment.

On Wednesday, US health officials announced intentions to provide COVID-19 booster injections to all Americans, citing the rising prevalence of the delta form and evidence that vaccination efficacy is eroding.

Moeti told reporters she couldn’t tell with certainty if the dosages the US intends to utilize for booster injections will come from supplies earmarked for Africa, but expressed optimism that they would not.

The State Department did not reply quickly to requests for comment.

Moeti observed the global vaccine supply chain’s “already very inequitable condition” and suggested that greater focus be placed on vaccinating people in Africa, whose nations fall significantly behind the rest of the world in terms of access and coverage.

Moeti noted that wealthy nations have provided an average of more than 103 vaccination doses per 100 individuals, compared to just six in Africa.

Earlier this week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described as “unconscionable” the fact that certain nations are now giving booster injections “while so many people remain unprotected.”

Moeti stated on Thursday that “we are encouraging wealthier countries with supplies that are frequently more than their population to increase their gifts to African countries that have been so disadvantaged.”

Following last week’s discovery that some COVID-19 vaccine doses are now being made in Africa and being delivered to Europe, she continued, “I believe there is no greater model to follow than vaccinations that are really being produced on the African continent.” She urged such countries to consider donating part of the vaccinations manufactured in South Africa to African nations “in addition to meeting their own requirements.”

Must Read