COVID-19 surge in India impacting vaccine flows to Africa

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World Health Organization (WHO) officials said that vaccine deliveries to Africa ground to a near halt this month, as India diverted doses for domestic use.

FILE: Family members, with help from the municipal staff, transfer the bodies of the patients who died of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease from the ambulance at a crematorium in Bangalore, India, on 15 April 2021. Picture: Manjunath Kiran/AFP

CAPE TOWN – The COVID-19 pandemic’s grip on India has impacted the flow of vaccines to Africa.

World Health Organization (WHO) officials said that vaccine deliveries to the continent ground to a near halt this month, as India diverted doses for domestic use.

India’s Serum Institute produces the AstraZeneca vaccine distributed to Africa through the World Health Organization’s COVAX mechanism.

Of the 66 million expected vaccine doses, 18.2 million were received between February and May.

WHO regional director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said that around 127,000 people on the continent had died of the disease and 4.7 million COVID-19 cases were recorded.

“So far, 24 million Africans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 5.5 million have received two doses,” she said.

Regional director for the World Bank’s Africa region, Dena Ringold, said that delays in the vaccine rollout would have a severe impact on economies.

“In addition to the loss of life and human capital, we estimate that every month of delay in the provision of the COVID-19 vaccine has a potential to cost the African content close to $14 billion in lost GDP. So this is an economic and social crisis,” Ringold said.

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