Africa to get U.S. COVID-19 shots next week as cases surge
A special envoy of the African Union said on Thursday that the United States will begin shipping the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines it has provided to Africa this weekend, as the continent sees an increase in infections spurred by variants.
Last month, US President Joe Biden said that his administration would provide 500 million Pfizer (PFE.N) coronavirus vaccine doses to the world’s 100 lowest income countries, with no strings attached.
Strive Masiyiwa told a weekly online briefing of the Africa Centres for Disease Control that the donations were mostly Pfizer dosages with a few Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccines.
“We begin to ship by this weekend the U.S. donations. So some countries will begin to receive early next week shipments that are Johnson & Johnson, others will receive shipments that are Pfizer. No country will receive both,” Masiyiwa said.
Masiyiwa is a part of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, which is assisting with the distribution of US-donated vaccines.
During the said meeting, Africa’s CDC director, John Nkengasong, stated that the continent is trailing behind in vaccinating its population, with only 1% properly immunized.
Africa had hoped to receive 800 million pills by December of this year, but just 65 million had arrived so far, according to Nkengasong.
Moeti claimed the increase in infections was being fueled by more contagious variants.
“The Delta variant of concern is the most contagious we’ve seen. It has been found in 16 African countries so far, including three out of the five countries reporting the most new cases,” Moeti told reporters.
She implored wealthy countries to take immediate action on vaccination sharing.