Nearly 7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa office said on Thursday.
Vaccinations are occurring as more than 4 million infections have been reported on the continent, with 43,000 new cases in the past week and 108,000 killed from the virus, according to the WHO.
After waiting for months on the sidelines, many of the first wave of countries to start campaigns are rapidly vaccinating high-risk groups.
“Although Africa received vaccines late and in limited quantities, a lot of ground has been covered in a short space of time. This is due to the continent’s vast experience in mass vaccination campaigns and the determination of its leaders and people to effectively curb COVID-19,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti.
“Compared with countries in other regions that accessed vaccines much earlier, the initial rollout phase in some African countries has reached a far higher number of people,” Moeti said during a virtual news conference.
Most African countries have accessed vaccines through the UN COVAX Facility, bilateral deals and donations.
Thirty-eight nations have received more than 25 million vaccines and 30 have started vaccination campaigns, according to the WHO.
Initial doses are being limited to priority population groups, including health care workers, the elderly and those with health conditions that place them at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, the WHO said.