Over half of African citizens could have been protected by now

Updated Every Month

To date, African countries have been able to secure just 121 million vaccine doses in order to minimise the effects of COVID-19. Of these, 72% have already been jabbed into arms, equating to just 1.8% of all vaccines administered globally – a far cry from the 1.3 billion doses ordered by African governments and the African Union to date, which would have been sufficient to protect 52% of the entire population. This is also a far cry from an “equitable” scenario, where our calculations suggest African continent could have received sufficient doses to protect 30% of the population, for example IF all vaccine doses had been distributed globally through COVAX.

Yet, Africa still makes up 3% and 4% of global COVID 19 cases and deaths. How?

The fact is, case numbers in a limited number of African countries are on the rise. The continent as a whole ranks second in terms of newly reported cases, but over 50% of these cases come from 2 countries, and 89% of the cases from just 10 nations. No doubt, these ten countries require urgent support, especially if new variants are to be avoided…

But this support is insufficient and often inconsistent.

Of the vaccines that have been delivered to African countries so far, over 40% have came from China. This compares to a total 33% from the COVAX initiative – some of which are labelled as from various specific donors such as the US.  However, in total, the majority of vaccines have been purchased –  we calculate 52% – meaning the challenge for African countries in accessing vaccines is not financial.

Furthermore, while 52 of the 55 African countries have initiated domestic vaccination campaigns, the distribution of vaccines within the continent is highly skewed. 11 African countries have yet to receive COVAX vaccines, 21 counties have yet to receive Chinese vaccines, and 27 have yet to receive American-made or American funded vaccines. On the other hand, 77% of the continent’s total supply has been administered by just 10 countries.

The upshot, although most African nations are administering vaccines as swiftly as possible, only 3.2% of the African population has been vaccinated. Only 9 countries have vaccinated over 10% of their population. This is not due to unwillingness amongst the population or a lack of efficiency on the part of the government – 31 African nations have used over 50% of their supply.

As things currently stand, healthcare facilities could easily be overwhelmed, leading to an otherwise avoidable increase in death rates. So far, only three countries (South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia) are recording daily deaths above 100 and no African country is experiencing mortality rates beyond 10%. That said, if COVID-19 is not checked, these figures could quickly change.

This reality further illustrates why the vital lesson of this crisis may be that African nations must harness the capacity to produce doses domestically, as well as shift international rules and systems to deliver more equity. Yet, both of these are longer-term endeavours. For now, while some reports regarding the COVID-19 situation in Africa are unnecessarily apocalyptic, the current vaccine deficiency means continuing to implement social distancing and lockdown policies, alongside testing, will remain key for African countries to minimise the health impacts of this pandemic.

To review the data yourself, check out the graphics and numbers below, and do let us know what you find surprising, worrying, or reassuring, and what you’d like us to find out next month.

To find out how Development Reimagined can support you, your organisation or Government during the COVID-19 outbreak please email the team at clients@developmentreimagined.com .

Special thanks go to Rosie Wigmore, Saeger Godson, Lauren Ashmore and Jing Cai for their work on the graphic and collecting/analysing the underlying data and this accompanying article.

The data was collated primarily from Africa CDC, as well as other sources including: government websites and media reports, the IMF policy tracker;  Worldometer and the New York Times Vaccine Tracker. Our methodology is entirely in-house, based on analysis of vaccine, testing, spending, social distancing, income categories and other trends.

If you spot any gaps or have any enquiries, please send your feedback to us at team@developmentreimagined.com, we will aim to respond asap.

August 2021

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