Syringe shortage threatens COVID vaccination campaign in Africa

UNICEF predicts an ‘imminent shortfall’ of up to 2.2 billion single-use syringes used for needle sticks.

Africa’s fight to vaccinate people against COVID-19 is at risk of being hampered by a shortage of syringes just as vaccine supplies flood the continent, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund, predicts a “looming shortfall” of up to 2.2 billion single-use syringes used for needle sticks, WHO Africa said.

These include automatic deactivation syringes that are used to administer Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID vaccine, he said.

The shortage will continue for at least the first quarter of next year, he said in a weekly online briefing.

“Early next year, COVID-19 vaccines will start arriving in Africa, but a shortage of syringes could stall progress,” warned Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“Syringe production must be increased both globally and locally. Countless African lives depend on it, ”he added.

Low vaccination rates

Unless there is a significant acceleration, only five African countries, or less than 10 percent, will reach the target of 40 percent of vaccinated populations by the end of the year, the WHO said.

Countries such as the Seychelles, Mauritius, Morocco, which have already achieved this goal, as well as Tunisia and Cape Verde, together represent only 51 million of the 1.2 billion inhabitants of the continent.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the African Union (AU) intends to purchase up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc in a deal negotiated in part by the White House that will delay the delivery of some doses. destined for the United States. States to facilitate the deal, officials told Reuters news agency.

The UA doses will be delivered in the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of the year, 35 million in the first quarter of 2022 and up to 60 million in the second quarter.

Moderna said it was working to make dose filling of its COVID-19 vaccines possible in Africa by 2023 and has plans to build a manufacturing plant on the continent.

Some 8.5 million coronavirus infections and more than 218,000 deaths have been recorded on the continent, according to the Africa CDC.

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