The World Health Organisation has asked Nigeria and some other African countries to expect delays in the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.
The WHO Africa Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said this during a press conference with select journalists on Thursday.
She, however, said Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon and Comoros should still expect their shipments.
Sunday PUNCH had reported last week that the Federal Government had asked all states administering COVID-19 vaccines to stop immediately they have exhausted half of the dosage given to them.
The move, it was learnt, had become necessary due to a shortage of the AstraZeneca vaccine on the international market caused by a surge in the demand for the vaccine including in India which is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19.
Some states like Bauchi, Benue and Ogun had already complied with the directive.
Speaking at the press conference, the WHO regional director said Africa had been affected by the happenings in India.
She said attempts were being made to find alternatives but this would not happen overnight
Moeti said, “Delays in COVAX shipments are expected to continue this month unfortunately as India is fighting a severe second wave of COVID-19 and has temporarily banned vaccine exports. Despite supply challenges, we are expecting COVAX deliveries in the coming weeks in Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Niger, Cameroon and Comoros.
“Countries affected by the delays have received WHO guidance to optimise the national deployment of the available doses. Manufacturers along with WHO, Africa CDC, African countries, development partners and the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative are working hard to sustainably scale-up vaccine production, but we recognise that this cannot be achieved overnight.”
Moeti said short-term solutions that prioritise vaccine equity were needed and that Africa was already playing COVID-19 vaccination catch-up.
“While we acknowledge the immense burden placed by the global demand for vaccines, inequity can only worsen scarcity,” the WHO director said.
According to the WHO, about 100 days into the year, of more than 600 million vaccine doses distributed globally, Africa has administered only two per cent.
A chart posted by WHO showed that Nigeria has the third highest number of vaccinated persons in Africa after Morocco and Kenya. Others in the top 10 include: Ghana, Malawi, Mauritius, Senegal, Angola, Rwanda and Seychelles.