The World Health Organization warned that COVID-19 is gaining ground in Africa, with the death toll jumping 43% in the past week and the number of new cases at 1 million in the past month
“Over the past month, Africa recorded an additional 1 million cases,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa said. “This is the shortest time it has taken so far to add 1 million cases. Comparatively, it took around three months to move from 4 million to 5 million cases. This COVID-19 resurgence is the fastest the continent has seen.
This is a clear warning our hospitals are at a breaking point. In all, 153,000 people have sadly died. Africa is just 1 percent shy of the peak in fatalities reached in January.”
Dr. Moeti also emphasized that this new wave is driven by the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. The Delta variant has already been detected in 21 of Africa’s 54 countries, with Algeria, South Africa, Malawi, and Senegal among the countries experiencing a surge in infections. Yet less than 2% of the continent’s population is vaccinated.
The slowness in vaccination rollout in the continent can be attributed to the shortage of vaccines from Africa’s vaccine partners, delays in shipment of does, and vaccine hesitancy by the majority of the continent. According to Dr. Richard Mihigo, Program Area Manager for Immunization and Vaccine Development at World Health Organization’s Africa regional office, African nations have destroyed 450,000 doses of expired COVID-19 vaccines since the beginning of the rollout.
With the Delta variant fast spreading across the continent, there is a need to increase the current pace of administration of vaccines by at least three- to five-fold, tighten COVID-19 protocols and strengthen the already fragile health systems.