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Gerald Imray reports for Associated Press from Cape Town that in South Africa, which has Africa’s most robust economy and its biggest coronavirus caseload, just 0.8% of the population is fully vaccinated. Hundreds of thousands of the country’s health workers, many of whom come face-to-face with the virus every day, are still waiting for their shots.

The picture is similar with other African nations. In Nigeria, Africa’s biggest country with more than 200 million people, only 0.1% are fully protected. Kenya, with 50 million people, is even lower. Uganda has recalled doses from rural areas because it doesn’t have nearly enough to fight outbreaks in big cities.

Chad didn’t administer its first vaccine shots until this past weekend. And there are at least five other countries in Africa where not one dose has been put into an arm, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization says the continent of 1.3 billion people is facing a severe shortage of vaccine at the same time a new wave of infections is rising across Africa. Vaccine shipments into Africa have ground to a “near halt”, WHO said last week.

In an interview, Nkengasong called on the leaders of wealthy nations meeting this week at the G7 summit to share spare vaccines – something the US has already agreed to do – and avert a “moral catastrophe”.

“I’d like to believe that the G7 countries, most of them having kept excess doses of vaccines, want to be on the right side of history,” Nkengasong said. “Distribute those vaccines. We need to actually see these vaccines, not just … promises and goodwill.”

Others are not so patient, nor so diplomatic.

“People are dying. Time is against us. This IS INSANE,” South African human rights lawyer Fatima Hasan, an activist for equal access to health care, wrote in a series of text messages.



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