“This will really require a massive effort,” Dr. Moeti acknowledged, saying that “without a significant boost” in the availability of vaccines, “many African lives are at stake.”
The announcement came as Africa is set to surpass five million virus cases, with Covid having claimed 133,000 lives so far, according to official statistics. While testing is often limited, known cases have also increased, with 94,145 new ones reported in the past week — a 26 percent increase from the previous week, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Countries including Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia and Zambia have reported a surge in cases, while some, such as Uganda, have reintroduced lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus. The Africa C.D.C. also said that deaths on the continent increased by 2 percent over the past week, and many more countries have reported detecting the variants first reported in Britain, India and South Africa. As cases and deaths rise, many nations have reported exhausting most of the vaccines they received through Covax, a global vaccine initiative. The W.HO. said that 14 African nations had utilized 80 percent to 100 percent of their doses.
Still, only 35.9 million Covid vaccine doses have been administered on the continent, according to the Africa C.D.C., with the majority given in a few countries, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa, and in the Western Sahara region. Burundi, Eritrea and Tanzania have yet to give a single shot, while Chad and Togo only started administering doses last week.
While some countries have faced shortages, others have not been rolling out campaigns quickly. Twenty nations have used less than half of their doses, the W.H.O. estimated, while 12 nations have more than 10 percent of their doses facing expiration.