Low vaccination rates coupled with emerging variants have resulted in an increase of cases in Africa.
An upsurge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta and Omicron variant resulted in 83% new cases this past week. The current surge is however causing fewer deaths in comparison to past surges. As the continent is only predicted to reached 70% vaccine coverage in August 2024 based on the World Health Organization (WHO) assessment findings, further waves are expected. Last week over 196 000 new cases were reported in Africa and 107 000 recorded the week before, bringing the cumulative total of recorded cases during the course of the pandemic to 8.9 million. COVID-19 cases are currently doubling every five days, though the spread of the cases has increased the death toll has dropped by 19% the last week in comparison to the week before.
WHO Reginal Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti stated, “We are cautiously optimistic that deaths and severe illness will remain low in the current wave, but slow vaccine rollout in Africa means both will be much higher than they should be.” 20 countries in Africa have vaccinated no less than 10% of their residents as of 13 December, while six countries have fully vaccinated 40% of their residents and two countries (Mauritius and Seychelles) reached 70% vaccine coverage. As bleak as the continent’s vaccination numbers are, Dr Moeti assured, “But we can still save many lives if we can accelerate the pace of vaccination in early 2022.” For the continent to be able to fully vaccinate 70% of the population, 1.6 billion additional doses are required.