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WHO warns Africa falling far behind in vaccinations

WHO warns Africa falling far behind in vaccinations
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The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that African countries are falling behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates and that many are set to miss their targets unless they receive millions more doses. 

The WHO warned on Thursday that 47 of Africa’s 54 countries, almost 90 percent, are on track to miss the goal of having vaccinated 10 percent of the population by September unless they receive 225 million more doses. 

The numbers highlight the disparities between countries on vaccinations. Africa’s 32 million doses administered so far are under 1 percent of the 2.1 billion given worldwide, the WHO said. Just 2 percent of people in Africa have received at least one dose, compared to about 52 percent in the United States. 

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Cases are now rising again on the continent. 

“As we close in on 5 million cases and a third wave in Africa looms, many of our most vulnerable people remain dangerously exposed to COVID-19,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa. “Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can, must urgently share COVID-19 vaccines. It's do or die on dose sharing for Africa.”

The warnings come as President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE on Thursday pledged 500 million doses of vaccine for 92 lower-income countries around the world between August and the first half of next year. 

The WHO called that announcement an “important step forward.”

“The tide is starting to turn,” Moeti said. “We are now seeing wealthy nations beginning to turn promises into action.”

The WHO also called on some African countries to do more to distribute the doses they already have. It said 20 countries in Africa have used less than 50 percent of the doses they have received.