Worst Week of the Pandemic in Africa
By Sophia Mao
Last Thursday, July 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Africa was going through its worst week of the pandemic because of rapid increase in cases combined with the inadequate amount of vaccine doses.
The delta variant, a mutation of SARS-CoV-2, has resurfaced in Africa and has affected at least ten out of the sixteen countries that have seen a jump in cases. Health experts say that, “The continent’s latest wave of infections is being driven in part by more contagious variants such as delta.”
Additionally, the rising cases show no sign of stopping soon. “But the worst is yet to come as the fast-moving third wave continues to gain speed and new ground,”says Matshidiso Moeti, a WHO regional director for Africa. Infections and fatalities have both seen sudden increases in the percentages, with infectious rates growing twenty percent and fatality rates climbing twenty three percent.
Africa’s hospitals are overwhelmed, especially in countries including Namibia, Uganda and Zambia. Southern and eastern Africa have been experiencing the harshest breakouts, “registering a 46 percent increase in fatalities from the virus in the week to July 4. There seems to be no hope in stopping the deadly virus for, “Cases are doubling now every 18 days,” according to Moeti.
Out of the 1.3 billion population in Africa, only a miniscule amount of people have gotten vaccinated. According to WHO, only a little over one percent of Africa’s total population has been inoculated. Even worse, vaccine shipments to the continent were almost stopped last month, “amid a global supply crunch.”
Fortunately, measures have been carried out to battle this sudden surge in cases. Last Thursday, the African Union and UNICEF (U.N. children’s agency) made it public that they had made an agreement to help supply Johnson & Johnson single-shot doses.
UNICEF plans to provide Africa with 220 million doses by the end of the year 2022.