"To talk about third dose is to ridicule vaccine equity" - WHO Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa said Thursday that rich countries' decision to move to a third dose of the vaccine by buying new batches "makes a mockery of the concept of vaccine equity.".

For WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti, the decision by richer countries to move to a third dose of vaccines, when the African continent has only vaccinated about 2% people, "threatens the promise of a better future for Africa."

According to AP, which quotes the WHO regional director for Africa, the increase in the number of cases on the continent in recent weeks means that more vaccines need to be made available, but "Africa is encountering headwinds," particularly in the United States, which has decided to move towards a third dose of the vaccine.

The situation in Africa "remains very fragile," with the Delta variant dominating the number of new infections in most countries on the continent.

More than 7.3 million cases, resulting in more than 186,000 deaths, have been confirmed on the continent, which is struggling with signs that the effectiveness of vaccines is waning.

Moeti said he could not guarantee that the vaccines that will serve for the third dose in the US are those that were planned to be made available to African countries, but said, "I hope that is not the case."

The vaccine situation, he pointed out, "is already highly uneven" globally, and so the priority has to be to vaccinate the 1.3 billion Africans, whose countries lag far behind in terms of coverage and access.

Rich countries, he concludes, have given an average of 103 doses of vaccine per 100 inhabitants, while in Africa the figure is only six.

Earlier this week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had called it "unconscionable" that some countries are contemplating a booster vaccine beyond the second dose, "when so many people remain unprotected."

Lusa Agency

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