SWITZERLAND: In the middle of last year, the World Health Organisation began promoting an ambitious goal, one it said was essential for ending the pandemic: fully vaccinate 70 per cent of the population in every country against COVID-19 by June 2022.
Now, it is clear that the world will fall far short of that target by the deadline. And there is a growing sense of resignation among public health experts that high COVID vaccination coverage may never be achieved in most lower-income countries, as badly needed funding from the US dries up and both governments and donors turn to other priorities.
“The reality is that there is a loss of momentum,” said Dr Isaac Adewole, a former Health Minister of Nigeria who now serves as a consultant for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Only a few of the world’s 82 poorest countries — including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and Nepal — have reached the 70 per cent vaccination threshold. Many are under 20 per cent, according to data compiled from Government sources by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford.
By comparison, about two-thirds of the world’s richest countries have reached 70 per cent. (The US is at 66 per cent.) “This pandemic is not over yet — far from it — and it’s imperative that countries use the doses available to them to protect as much of their population as possible,” said Dr Seth Berkeley, chief executive of Gavi, the nonprofit that runs the global vaccine clearinghouse Covax. Countries in different parts of the world, including some in Eastern Europe and West Asia, have seen their vaccination rates stagnate in recent months at a third or less of their populations. But Africa’s vaccination rate remains the most dismal.
Fewer than 17 per cent of Africans have received a primary COVID immunisation. Nearly half of the vaccine doses delivered to the continent thus far have gone unused. Last month, the number of doses injected on the continent fell by 35 per cent compared to February. WHO officials attributed the drop to mass vaccination pushes being replaced by smaller-scale campaigns in several countries.
– THE TELEGRAPH INDIA