African health leaders stress need for vaccine equity

Director of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Doctor John Nkengasong, stressed that access to vaccines was the only way that the COVID-19 pandemic could be collectively ended.

A member of the military administers the SinoVac vaccine to a citizen at a mobile clinic in Emganwini township, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on 3 August 2021. Picture: Zinyange Auntony/AFP

CAPE TOWN - Just under 3.5% of Africa's population have so far been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health leaders on the continent have set a target to have at least 60% of Africa's population of 1.3 billion people immunised.

They recently met to discuss their targets regarding COVID-19 vaccination as well as the management of the pandemic.

Globally, more than 5.7 billion coronavirus vaccine doses have so far been administered, 2% of these on the African continent.

Director of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Doctor John Nkengasong, stressed that access to vaccines was the only way that the COVID-19 pandemic could be collectively ended.

"We will not be able to achieve 60% of our population being fully immunised if we do not fully exploit and deploy the power of cooperation and solidarity."

WHO Regional Director, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, emphasised that the longer vaccine inequity persisted, the more the coronavirus would keep circulating and changing, hampering efforts to end the pandemic.

"I may sound like a broken record. I don't care. I will continue to call for vaccine equity until we get it."

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