Africa sees worst week with record COVID-19 related fatalities: WHO

One-week fatalities shoot to record levels as the continent looks to play catch up with vaccine rollouts.

In its weekly update, the World Health Organization confirmed that over the week ending 01 August, the virus had claimed a record number of 6,400 lives across the continent - a 2% increase in comparison to the previous week. This brings Africa’s overall number of COVID-19 related deaths to 172,000 to date, with South Africa and Tunisia jointly accounting for more than half of the fatalities. As of the 5th of August, South Africa, the hardest hit country on the continent, had reported 73,783 deaths - about 40% of all death cases. Over the week in question, new COVID-19 cases across the continent also shot up by nearly a fifth to over 278 000. In the past two weeks alone, about 22 African countries have also seen their cases rise by a similar percentage.

To date, just 1.7% of Africa's population has been fully vaccinated. While Africa still lags its counterparts with vaccine rollouts, the WHO noted some progress on the supply front. “After a tough three months, we’re seeing more positive prospects as vaccine shipments to Africa start picking up. The last two weeks of July saw a 12-fold increase in vaccine deliveries compared with the first half of the month,” said Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, the New Vaccines Introduction Officer at WHO’s Regional Office for Africa. “Nearly 12 million doses were delivered through COVAX to 24 countries in July—more than the volume received in April, May and June combined, and bringing the total number of doses shipped to Africa so far to 91 million,” added Atuhebwe.