Many countries are relying on temperature checks to limit the spread of Covid as they have no vaccines
Some of the world’s poorest countries are being left behind in the fight against Covid and have not administered a single vaccine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said about a dozen countries – many of them in Africa – are still waiting to secure vaccines.
Despite accounting for 16% of people worldwide, Africa has delivered just 1% of the total number of coronavirus jabs. Those last in line on the continent include Chad, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Eritrea and Tanzania.
There is a danger that new and concerning variants could emerge in places where there are no vaccines, said Gian Gandhi, Unicef’s co-ordinator for Covax, the UN-backed programme to help low and middle-income countries.
‘So we should all be concerned about any lack of coverage anywhere in the world,’ Mr Gandhi said, urging higher-income countries to donate doses to the nations that are still waiting.
At the small hospital where Dr Oumaima Djarma, 33, works in Chad’s capital N’Djamena, there are no debates over which coronavirus vaccine is the best.
There are simply no vaccines at all – not even for the doctors and nurses like her, who care for patients who tested positive for Covid.
A communal agent measures the body temperature of traders at the opening of Rood Wokos great market in Ouagadougou (Picture: AFP/ Getty)
Dr Oumaima Djarma says she will take the first Covid vaccine she is offered (Picture: AP)
‘I find it unfair and unjust, and it is something that saddens me,’ the infectious diseases doctor said.
‘I don’t even have that choice. The first vaccine that comes along that has authorisation, I will take it.’
She added: ‘Everyone dies from this disease, rich or poor. Everyone must have the opportunity, the chance to be vaccinated, especially those who are most exposed.’
Chad is expected to get some Pfizer doses next month if it can put in place the cold storage facilities needed to keep the vaccine safe. This is a challenge, as a third of the country is in the Sahara desert and temperatures regularly reach 43.5C.
Some countries also took more time to meet the requirements for receiving doses, including signing indemnity waivers with manufacturers and having distribution plans in place.
In Haiti, not a single vaccine has been administered to the more than 11 million people who live in the most impoverished country of the Western hemisphere.
Haiti was due to receive 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via Covax, but government officials said they did not have the infrastructure needed to conserve them and worried they’d need to be throw them away.
Several small island nations in the Pacific are also yet to receive any vaccines, although the lack of outbreaks in some of these places has meant there is less urgency with inoculation campaigns.
Vanuatu, with a population of 300,000, is waiting to receive its first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine later this month, but it has recorded only three cases of coronavirus, all of them in quarantine.
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