After two years of struggling to contain the deadly spread of COVID-19, the World Health Organization reports the African continent is poised to control the trajectory of the pandemic.
The first case of COVID-19 was detected in Africa on February 14th, 2020. Since then, more than 11 million people have been infected on the continent and more than 242,000 have died.
The World Health Organization regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, says the pandemic has taken a toll in terms of lives lost and the incalculable damage done to African economies.
Despite all this, she says the African people have battled and survived four waves and several variants of the infection. During this trying period, she says Africa has become smarter, faster, and better at responding to each new surge in COVID-19 cases.
“As we stand here today, we are finally able to say that if the current trends hold, there is light at the end of the tunnel," said Moeti. "As long as we remain vigilant, and we act intensively, particularly on vaccination, the continent is on track for controlling the pandemic. It has been an extremely difficult two years but, against all odds, Africa is weathering this terrible storm.”
Africa has made great progress over the past two years in managing COVID-19 cases. WHO reports the number of intensive care unit beds and oxygen production plants has increased. The U.N. health agency also has increased the number of laboratories able to detect COVID-19 from two to more than 900 today.
Despite these and other improvements, Moeti says vaccination remains the best defense against this deadly disease. She also notes African countries continue to lag behind other countries in inoculating their populations.
“While many countries are considering booster shots, 85 percent of Africans have yet to receive a single vaccine. To reach the levels of immunity achieved in other parts of the world, vaccine uptake needs to be significantly accelerated across the region—and urgently," said Moeti.
Moeti says a steady supply of doses is now reaching Africa but is not enough to change the situation for the better. Getting those lifesaving shots into peoples’ arms, she says, requires faster and more effective vaccine rollouts.