Head of WHO Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti declared that her continent is transitioning from the pandemic phase of the Covid-19 outbreak to a new phase of managing the virus over the long term.
“I believe that we are transitioning from the pandemic phase and we will now need to manage the presence of this virus in the long term,” told Dr. Moeti a media briefing last Thursday.
Moeti said that Africa is now moving into a sort of endemic living with Covid-19, and that the expected increase of the vaccination rate will help to speed up the transition to this new phase. She added that over the two years, Africa has become faster and better at facing new surges in Covid-19 infections. And these improvements – she added – were possible despite the difficulties in accessing the vaccinations.
Against the odds, including huge inequities in access to vaccinations, we’ve weathered the Covid-19 storm with resilience and determination.Dr. Matshidiso Moeti
However, Moeti’s declarations are in contrast with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who believes the Covid-19 pandemic is not finished. He warned countries that new variants are likely to spread again, nullifying the progress made until now. Tedros added that populations in Africa are among the most at-risk.
Because of the Covid19 pandemic, around 40 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty in the African continent, estimated the World Bank. Every month of delay in lifting Covid-19 restrictions costs Africa an estimated $13.8bn in lost GDP.
According to Moeti, only 11% of Africa’s adult population has been vaccinated, despite Africa receiving more than 670 million vaccine shots. To reach the same results achieved in other continents, Africa needs to significantly accelerate vaccine uptake.
A steady supply of doses is reaching our shores, so the focus needs to be on translating those into actual shots in people’s arms.Dr. Matshidiso Moeti
In the next phase of managing and living with Covid-19, the ability of countries to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and keep cases low will be of paramount importance. Hence, Africa needs to support the local manufacturing of vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools, said Moeti.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, declared that now there are around 10 African countries actively working on a vaccine or planning to do so, with South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda, Algeria and Morocco as leading nations. However, he also added that 2022 vaccine needs will not be met.
Despite the low vaccination rate, WHO’s data show that Africa is among the least-affected continents by the pandemic. Some experts attribute that to Africa’s younger population and the tendency to spend more time outdoors.