The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO) says with Africa-bound COVID-19 vaccine doses from the Serum Institute of India delayed for the foreseeable future, slow vaccine rollouts and new variants making inroads, the risk of a new wave of infections in Africa remains high.

In a statement, WHO-AFRO says delays and shortages of vaccine supplies are driving African countries to slip further behind the rest of the world in the COVID-19 vaccine roll out and the continent now accounts for only 1% of the vaccines administered worldwide, down from 2% a few weeks ago.

COVID-19 vaccine rollouts have been exemplary in some African countries, yet around half, or 19 million, of the 37 million COVID-19 vaccine doses received in Africa have been administered so far, according to reports from African countries.

Initial deliveries through COVAX to 41 African nations have been staggered since early March, yet nine countries have administered less than a quarter of the doses they have, and 15 countries have given less than half. Eight countries have given all of their COVAX doses.

WHO Regional Director for Africa,  Dr Matshidiso Moeti says, “While we call for vaccine equity Africa must also knuckle down and make the best of what we have. We must get all the doses we have into people’s arms, “said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “It’s a race against time and the virus. Given the limited supply we recommend that countries prioritize giving the first dose to as many high-risk people as possible in the shortest amount of time.”

Below is the full statement: