Wednesday, June 29

Ugandan Minister Blames West for Covid Vaccine Shortage | Uganda

A Ugandan government minister blamed the West for his country’s inability to secure more Covid-19 vaccines, as the World Health Organization warned that Africa urgently needed hundreds of millions more hits to fend off a third wave. increasing number of infections.

Chris Baryomunsi said Uganda was able to vaccinate more than a million people, but was unable to get more vaccines.

“The problem has been the supply side,” said Baryomunsi, who is also an epidemiologist. “We have the money, but we just can’t get vaccinated. This is an access and equity challenge. We have to trust the Western world and the Western world has focused on its population. The impression is that the people there do not care about the Africans. “

Uganda, which has successfully suppressed previous waves of infection, like other countries in Africa, has risked major economic damage by imposing another severe blockade.

“There was complacency that was installed with the population and then a new variant that was much more aggressive,” Baryomunsi told The Guardian. “We have lost a lot of people. The good news is that we have started to reduce infections. “

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Director for Africa, told reporters that the continent had just celebrated the most terrible pandemic week in its history. “But the worst is yet to come as the fast-moving third wave continues to pick up speed and new ground,” he said.

In the seven days to Thursday, the continent registered 251,000 cases, 21% more. So far, only 1.6% of the vaccine doses administered globally have been administered in Africa and less than 2% of its population has been vaccinated.

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“This leaves hundreds of millions of people still vulnerable to serious infections and diseases,” Moeti said. “There are still weeks until the end of this dramatic increase. We can still break the chain of transmission by conducting tests, isolating contacts and cases, and following key public health measures. “

Sixteen African countries are experiencing a resurgence of the virus, with the most contagious Delta variant detected in 10 of them. Throughout, 151,000 people have died across the continent. With limited evidence and mortality statistics, both totals are believed to be highly significant underestimates.

South Africa is the hardest hit country in Africa, with daily new infections reaching record levels, driven by the Delta variant and late responses from lawmakers. Figures for excess mortality in South Africa suggest that more than 170,000 have died from the disease, although official statistics register 65,000.

Although infections in the economic heart of the country, Gauteng province, appeared to have reached a peak, the rest of South Africa is now being hit hard, drawing further criticism of local authorities and the ruling African National Congress. Cyril Ramaphosa, the president, is likely to announce the extension of the restrictions imposed two weeks ago when he addresses the nation on Sunday night.

In Sudan, nearly 200 doctors and other front-line healthcare workers have died from Covid, with most still waiting for vaccinations, local medical staff said.

There is some hope that vaccine deliveries in Africa will be faster. The WHO said the Covax scheme, the UN-backed program established to ensure fair distribution of vaccines, expected to distribute more than 20 million doses that are expected to arrive imminently from the US.

“Covax partners work around the clock to achieve dose distribution commitments and procurement agreements with manufacturers to ensure that the most vulnerable Africans are promptly vaccinated against Covid-19.

“These efforts are paying off. Our calls for “us first, not me first” are finally turning speech into action. But deliveries can’t come soon enough because the third wave is looming across the continent, ”Moeti said.

Nineteen countries in Africa have used more than 80% of the doses supplied by Covax, while 31 countries have used more than half.

With even relatively wealthy countries like South Africa failing to prepare for predictable waves of the virus, there are concerns that other governments across the continent have not yet sufficiently strengthened health systems weakened by decades of underfunding, inefficiency and corruption.

In Tanzania, the government has moved to address the problems caused by the late president’s policy John Magafuli, who denied the threat of Covid and did not impose significant measures to restrict the spread of the disease. Since his death in March, the East African country’s authorities have moved to publicly acknowledge the threat of the virus.

A doctor working at a major private hospital in Arusha, the capital, said the situation remained very serious.

“People die every day. There is not enough oxygen. We have to reject them and they die at home. I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better and that makes me desperate, “said the doctor, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Boniface Kenn, a travel agent in Dar es Salaam, said the situation had deteriorated in recent weeks and was now “really, really bad.”

Tanzania is one of the countries on the continent that has suffered the most from travel restrictions, which have ruined tourism industries across the continent.

“It has been very hard. I have had trouble paying the rent, I have taken my children out of school, sometimes I have not been able to feed my family. It will take a lot to recover from this, ”Kenn said.

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