World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO) says a blockage on supplies and financial challenges are delaying Africa’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and risk curtailing plans to significantly expand the continent’s rollout later this year.

Vaccine deliveries to Africa through the COVAX facility ground to a near halt in May as the Serum Institute of India diverted doses for domestic use.

Between February and May the continent received just about a quarter, 18.2 million of the 66 million expected doses through COVAX.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti says, “As people living in richer countries hit the reset button this summer and their lives start to look normal, in Africa our lives will stay on hold. This is unjust. We are optimistic that vaccine availability will improve significantly in the second half of the year. We can still catch up and make up for the lost ground, but time is running out.”

The COVAX Facility continues to explore options to mitigate the impact of this global supply shortage and is in active negotiations with other manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines to diversify the portfolio while supporting the medium- to long-term scale-up of manufacturing capacity.

Below is the full statement by WHO-AFRO: