The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned Africa that it risks being left out in the COVID-19 vaccination as prices spike due to serious competition in other regions.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, gave the warning during a briefing on Thursday.
Mrs Moeti’s warning is coming amid reports of a continued spike in COVIS-19 cases in Nigeria.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reported that COVID-19 infections in the country continued to surge, with about 1,964 new cases recorded on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 116,655.
The WHO named Guinea as the only low-income country in Africa to have received doses of the vaccines, with only 25 people vaccinated so far.
This contrasts the situation in in wealthier continents of the world where the vaccines had been administered in 50 nations so far.
Also, the organization said Seychelles was the only country on the continent where a national COVID-19 vaccination campaign has started.
“We first, not me first, is the only way to end the pandemic”, Mrs Moeti said.
“Vaccine hoarding will only prolong the ordeal and delay Africa’s recovery. It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines, while lower-risk groups in rich countries are made safe.
“Health workers and vulnerable people in Africa need urgent access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” she added.
Need for equitable global distribution
COVAX Facility, the international alliance established to ensure equitable global distribution of the vaccines, said it had secured two billion doses for Africa.
In a report on Thursday, the UN quoted, the Managing Director, Country Programmes at GAVI, a partner in the alliance, Thabani Maphosa, as saying delivery of the vaccines would begin soon.
COVAX has committed to vaccinating no fewer than 20 percent of the population in Africa by the end of 2021.
The group said priority would be given to health workers and other vulnerable groups, such as older persons and those with pre-existing health conditions.
An initial 30 million vaccine doses are expected to begin arriving in countries by March.
In all, a maximum of 600 million doses will be disbursed, based on two doses per person, the UN said in the report.
“WHO said timelines and quantities could change, for example if vaccines fail to meet regulatory approval or due to challenges related to production, delivery and funding.”
Details of Nigeria’s infections
Meanwhile, details of infections in Nigeria published in the NCDC official website on Thursday showed January 21, 2021 marked a new single-day spike in COVID-19 cases.
The details showed that so far no fewer than 1,203,113 people have been tested since the first index case was announced on February 27, 2020.
The NCDC said that additional seven people died from coronavirus-related complications in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,485.
With 1,310 people discharged from various isolation centres across the country after testing negative to the virus, the NCDC said the number of recoveries increased to 93,646 as several states continue to struggle with mounting infections and hospitalisation.
“Our discharges today include 798 community recoveries in Lagos State and 191 community recoveries in Ondo State managed in line with NCDC guidelines,” the website stated.
The NCDC said the 1,964 new infections were recorded in 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the last 24 hours.
With Lagos remaining the nation’s epicentre for the infections, with 824 new infections, the FCT came a distant second with 246, followed by Plateau with 166 infections.
Other states were Kaduna-128, Ogun-76, Nasarawa-74, Anambra-69, Edo-50, Rivers-45, Ondo-44, Niger-40, Oyo-38, Adamawa-35, Kano-31, Akwa Ibom-27, Gombe-19, Kwara-13, Ekiti-12, Delta-6, Kebbi-6, Bauchi-5, Ebonyi-4, Osun-3 and Zamfara-1.