COVID still a threat due to low vaccination, says Africa CDC

The Africa CDC chief was asked if he agreed with the WHO that the end of the COVD-19 pandemic was in sight.

People wearing face masks walk past a logo of South African pharmaceutical major Aspen Pharmacare
People wearing face masks walk past a logo of South African pharmaceutical major Aspen Pharmacare, at its Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine facility in Gqeberha, South Africa, October 25, 2021 [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

The COVID-19 pandemic is still a threat in Africa given low vaccination rates, the acting director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has said.

“The virus is still circulating and with the low rates of vaccination, the pandemic is still very much with us here on the continent,” Ahmed Ogwell Ouma told a news conference on Thursday.

He was responding to a question about whether he agreed with the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said the end of the COVID pandemic was now in sight.

“We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic,” the WHO chief told reporters at a virtual news conference on Wednesday. “We are not there yet, but the end is in sight.”

The Africa CDC director said just more than 22 percent of Africa’s population was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and that his agency would continue pushing to raise that number. “The levels of protection are still relatively low,” he told reporters.

African countries struggled to secure early supplies of COVID vaccines as rich nations hoarded doses, and more recently hesitancy and logistics problems have made it difficult to get shots into arms.

Ouma said the Africa CDC was focusing on getting as many people on the continent as possible fully vaccinated, not on procuring new vaccines targeting specific variants like Omicron.

Source: Reuters