WHO, partners now eye February to get 30 percent of needed vaccine doses to Africa

WHO, partners now eye February to get 30 percent of needed vaccine doses to Africa
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The World Health Organization and its partners are now eyeing the month of February as the goal to get 30 percent of needed vaccine doses to Africa, less than half of the percentage African leaders earlier this year had hoped to reach.

The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had asked COVAX, the U.N.-led COVID-19 global development and distribution vaccine effort, for 30 percent of the vaccine doses needed by February, the co-head of COVAX and CEO of GAVI Seth Berkley said during a press briefing Tuesday. 

The original goal of having 60 percent of vaccine coverage in Africa by the end of 2021 has been pushed back due to lack of vaccine access. COVAX had been asked to provide half of the doses.

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Berkley said African leaders could aim to have 70 percent of the population vaccinated by March of 2022. 

COVAX is a program affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to provide equal access across the world to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The WHO has been saying for months that rich countries have hoarded vaccine doses, making it difficult for places like Africa to meet vaccination goals. 

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that booster shots in wealthy countries should not be administered until 2022 and instead the doses should be donated to countries struggling with low vaccine rates.

"We have been calling for vaccine equity from the beginning, not after the richest countries have been taken care of," Tedros said at the time. "I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers."