Africa recorded over 244, 000 new cases this week, according to new data shared by the World Health Organization (WHO). This represents an 11% drop from the week before and a second straight week of declining cases.
According to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Africa Regional Director, while there is this general reduction, countries in West Africa are experiencing a resurgence including Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Nigeria that are also battling other outbreaks including viral hemorrhagic fevers.
“We are particularly concerned about West Africa and we can expect the pressure of COVID-19 to hit health services harder and faster,” said Dr Moeti. “In addition to the strain of COVID-19, comes Ebola and other outbreaks. Fighting multiple outbreaks is a complex challenge.”
Moeti notes that the health systems in West Africa are more fragile than elsewhere in Africa even as they have received the same amount of COVID-19 vaccines other than other countries in East and South Africa.
To date, West Africa has received around 29 million vaccine doses however a WHO assessment of the functionality of health systems in West Africa found that they were 21% lower than in Southern Africa.
The assessment shows the West Africa sub-region has only administered 38% of the doses appropriated to them compared with 76% in East and Southern Africa and 95% in North Africa.
West Africa has delivered 2.4 doses per 100 people. In East and Southern Africa, the figure stands at 4.8 doses per 100 people.
Generally, in the past week, vaccine shipments to Africa have picked up with the COVAX Facility delivering almost 10 million doses to Africa so far in August, that is nine times what was delivered in the same period in July.
The African Union has so far delivered 1.5 million doses to nine countries. Since June, the number of doses administered per 100 people in sub-Saharan Africa has almost tripled from 1.2 per 100 people to 3.4 per 100 people.
“While COVID-19 vaccine shipments seem to be taking off, Africa is encountering headwinds. Moves by some countries globally to introduce booster shots threaten the promise of a brighter tomorrow for Africa. As some richer countries hoard vaccines, they make a mockery of vaccine equity,” said Dr Moeti.