“The threat of a third wave” of COVID-19 in Africa is “real and rising,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization regional director for Africa, told a virtual news conference Thursday.
“While many countries outside Africa have now vaccinated their high-priority groups and are able to even consider vaccinating their children, African countries are unable to even follow up with second doses for high-risk groups,” Moeti said. She urged “countries that have reached a significant vaccination coverage to release doses and keep the most vulnerable Africans out of critical care.”
The New York Times reported that migrants in Italy are not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, even though the government has said that everyone has a right to the vaccine, regardless of their legal status.
The Times account said a social security number is required to book an appointment for the shot, but only three of Italy’s 20 regions recognize the temporary numbers “given to hundreds of thousands of migrants.”
Dr. Marco Mazzetti, the president of the Italian Society of Migration Medicine, told the newspaper that many of the migrants are domestic workers.
“If we don’t control the virus circulation among these people who come inside our homes to help us, we don’t control the virus circulation in the country,” Mazzetti said.
India’s health ministry says it has ordered 300 million doses of an unapproved vaccine at a cost of over $200 million to be produced by Hyderabad-based Biological-E. The vaccine is currently in Phase 3 of the clinical trials.
India’s Supreme Court has criticized the country’s vaccine program, which has left much of the country’s massive population unvaccinated.
On Friday, India’s health ministry said that it had recorded 132,364 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24-hour period and 2,713 deaths. India has reported 28.5 million COVID-19 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Only the U.S. has more infections, at more than 33 million.
Authorities in Britain have approved the Pfizer vaccine for 12-15-year-olds. Regulators said the trial involving 2,000 children produced a good response.
COVAX financial boost
In other pandemic news, the WHO program to secure and distribute billions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world's poorest countries has received a major financial boost.
The COVAX initiative received nearly $2.4 billion in pledges Wednesday during a virtual summit hosted by Japan, which made the largest pledge, $800 million. The program also received significant financial pledges from Canada, France, Spain and Sweden.
COVAX has raised $9.6 billion since its creation.
Several nations also pledged to donate millions of doses from their domestic stockpiles to COVAX, with Japan again leading the way with a promise to donate 30 million doses.
COVAX is an alliance that includes the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an organization founded by Bill and Melinda Gates to vaccinate children in the world’s poorest countries. The program has so far distributed 77 million vaccine doses to 127 countries, far below its initial pledge of up to 2 billion doses this year.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris reminded the summit that the Biden administration has pledged a total of $4 billion to COVAX for 2021-2022, but she made no new pledges of additional financial or vaccine donations. President Joe Biden has pledged to donate 80 million doses from the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine stockpile.