African Union's top health official accuses rich nations of hoarding vaccines
The African Union's (AU) top health official on Thursday accused the United States and some rich nations of hoarding COVID-19 vaccines to provide booster shots to their citizens, while most Africans have not been vaccinated.
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) director John Nkengasong told a news conference in Johannesburg that he was baffled some rich countries were disregarding World Health Organization (WHO) advice to hold off from booster shots until more people were fully vaccinated worldwide.
"The problem we have with the third doses is: we have not seen enough science behind them," he said. "It is really confusing to me as to why we are moving towards a vast (administration) ... of the booster dose."
Wealthy countries such as the United States, Germany and France are planning to administer third shots, over concerns that immunity from the standard two-shot regimen is waning.
Later on Thursday, WHO's Africa head Matshidiso Moeti reiterated calls for "wealthy countries with vaccines supplies that are well beyong their population's needs," to share them.
Nkengasong said third shot programmes would make it hard for Africa to meet its target for vaccinating 60% to 70% of people, for which it needed at least 1.6 billion doses.
Currently only 3% of the continent were vaccinated, he said, while 145.4 million vaccine doses had been procured across the continent, of which three quarters had been administered.
Africa has recorded 7.9 million cases, of which 201,000 have been fatal, he said.