Eritrea Has Yet to Start COVID-19 Vaccinations as Most African Countries Lag Far Behind Global Targets
Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control.

Eritrea has yet to start vaccinating its citizens against COVID-19, whereas two African countries – South Africa and Tunisia – are now offering citizens over 50 a second COVID-19 booster vaccine.

However, but the vaccination rate on the continent is far behind the global vaccination target of 70%.

Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control, told a media briefing on Thursday that only 17.3% of Africans had been vaccinated against the virus, describing it as “very far from our target of 70% that we set last year”. 

Ten of the 54 member states have vaccinated over 35% of their citizens, with the small island states of the Seychelles (80.6%) and Mauritius (76.5%) leading.

They are followed by Rwanda (62.6%), Morocco (61.7%), Botswana (61.3%), Cabo Verde (54.6%), Tunisia (52.7%), Mozambique (43.1%) Sao Tome and Principe (40%) and Lesotho (37.6%). 

Some 37 of the 54 countries in Africa are offering boosters.

Boosters encouraged

“We are encouraging our member states to offer booster doses to citizens who have already received their full vaccination coverage, so as to ensure that their immunity remains high and to avoid situations of serious illness amongst those who have been vaccinated,” said Ouma.

Some 818 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been procured by the 54 member states and about 70% of this (579 million) had been administered.

In the past month, there has been a 90% surge of cases in east Africa, 36% increase in the Northern region, 35% increase in the Western region and a 12% increase in the Central region. However, there has been a 19% decrease in the Southern region 

 Ethiopia reported a 109% average increase in the number of cases, while Kenya saw a 70% average increase. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), cases increased by 51% and Nigeria saw a 41% increase. However, cases Egypt 60% average decrease South Africa 23% average decrease 

“This month marks a historic milestone in Africa, the sequencing and sharing of the 100,000th SARS-CoV-2 genome,” Ouma noted, describing this as an example of an advance in science on the continent.

Shortage of monkeypox vaccine

Monkeypox is endemic in 10 African countries and seven of these and one non-endemic country have reported a total of 1,495 monkeypox cases since the beginning of this year. There have been 66 people deaths, a case fatality rate of 4.4%

The vast majority of cases have been recorded in the DRC, with 1284 cases and 58 deaths. Nigeria follows with 66 cases with one death.


Cameroon has reported 25 cases and two deaths, the Central African Republic has 17 cases and two deaths, Congo Brazzaville has five cases and three deaths. Liberia (seven cases), Sierra Leone (two cases) and Ghana (one case) have not had any deaths.

“Only one non-endemic country in Africa is reporting a case and that is Morocco, which has reported one case, which seems to have a travel history to France during the preceding days,” said Ouma.

“Africa CDC has already activated a team within our Emergency Operations Centre, that is following very closely and monitoring the situation on the continent and also globally,” said Ouma. “We have also initiated a One Health approach to this particular intervention by bringing on board all our assets beyond human health in animal health and the environment to be able to get an accurate picture across the continent.”

Ouma said that while the smallpox vaccine was effective against monkeypox, Africa had not yet started vaccinations because of a shortage of vaccines.

“We are not yet actively vaccinating on the continent due to a lack of vaccine but we recommend the ring vaccination, where we treat those who have been diagnosed and vaccinate the people who are around them,” said Ouma. “In this way, we can be able to interrupt transmission of this virus as quickly as possible and reduce the risks for serious illnesses.”

He added that there are “very small stocks of vaccine stockpiles across the world”, and the World Health Organization (WHO) only had a small amount of about 2.4 million doses.

“In Africa, we do not yet have any stockpile and we are working with countries to see if there will be need to go beyond isolation and interruption of transmission using non-pharmaceutical methods,” he added.


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