US Begins COVID-19 Vaccine Shipment To Nigeria, South Africa
United States government has announced that it will ship nearly 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to two of the most populous African countries – Nigeria and South Africa on Wednesday (today) as the continent battles the third wave of infections, though delivery dates were not specified.
Recall the US President, Joe Biden, promised to donate 80 million vaccines to Africa with another promise of 500 million vaccines to low-income and middle-income countries.
Minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, during a press briefing, had also disclosed that Nigeria was expecting no fewer than 41 million vaccines before the end of 2021 while others will be coming in 2022 to enable the country to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the entire population.
A report by Reuters on Wednesday morning, however, stated that out of 10 million vaccine doses to be shipped, four million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will go to Nigeria and 5.66 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to South Africa, the officials said.
South Africa shipment is the single largest sent by the United States since it began sending vaccine shots overseas, one of the officials said. The latest shipments bring the total number of US vaccine doses sent to Africa to 16.4 million.
The urgently needed help comes amid growing concern about vaccination rates in Africa, which lag far behind those of advanced economies.
As of last week, African countries had administered just 60 million vaccine doses to a population that numbers over 1.3 billion, in part due to restrictions on shipments from vaccine-producing countries like India.
Experts worry that the highly contagious Delta variant could pose another setback if countries begin requiring booster shots for fully vaccinated individuals, a move that would slow shipments of urgently needed vaccines to developing countries.
The White House said equitable global access to safe and effective vaccines was essential to ending the pandemic.
“We are working to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people around the world as fast as possible,” one of the White House officials was quoted to have said.