A third wave of COVID-19 infections in Africa has stabilised and the continent’s slow vaccination drive has picked up pace, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.

Some 248 000 new cases were reported in the past week, down from 282 000 in mid-July, while the number of vaccinations tripled to 13 million, Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director, told an online news conference.

Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion, has experienced a third wave of infections since May, straining health systems in countries from South Africa to Tunisia, Zambia and Senegal, where vaccination rates are far lower than in Europe and North America.

COVAX – the donor scheme co-led by the WHO to purchase vaccines for poorer countries – initially hoped to vaccinate 20% of people in Africa this year, but it has been plagued by delays.

The WHO now hopes to vaccinate 10% of people in Africa by the end of September, Moeti said.

“117 million doses are due to arrive in the coming month and up to 34 million additional doses will be needed to reach that target,” she said.