The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO) says Africa needs at least 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the next six weeks to get second doses to all who received the first dose within the 8—12-week interval between doses recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a statement, the WHO-AFRO says a single dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine gives around 70% protection for at least 12 weeks.

Data on the protection from one dose after 12 weeks is limited, however, COVID-19 antibodies have been found in the body up to 6 months after one dose.

The full course provided with a 12-week interval gives 81% protection for an extended period.

In addition to this urgent need, another 200 million doses of any WHO Emergency Use Listed COVID-19 vaccine are needed so that the continent can vaccinate 10% of its population by September 2021.

This follows a call made by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the World Health Assembly, WHO’s governing body earlier this week for all Member States to support a massive vaccination push.

To date, 28 million COVID-19 doses, of different vaccines, have been administered in Africa, which represents less than two doses administered per 100 people in Africa. Globally, 1.5 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti says, “As supplies dry up, dose-sharing is an urgent, critical and short-term solution to ensuring that Africans at the greatest risk of COVID-19 get the much-needed protection.”

“Africa needs vaccines now. Any pause in our vaccination campaigns will lead to lost lives and lost hope…It’s too soon to tell if Africa is on the cusp of a third wave. However, we know that cases are rising, and the clock is ticking so we urgently appeal to countries that have vaccinated their high-risk groups to speed up the dose-sharing to fully protect the most vulnerable people.”

Below is the full statement: