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Before Giving Boosters, 98 Percent of Africa’s Population Have Yet to Get a Vaccine

As the gap between vaccinations in high-income and middle- and low- income countries widens, Project HOPE advises against using the global vaccine supplies for boosters.

Washington, DC (August 10, 2021) – As the gap between vaccinations in high-income and middle- and low- income countries widens, Project HOPE advises against using the global vaccine supplies for boosters. Several wealthy nations have started administering boosters, and other nations, including the United States, are considering plans to do so in the wake of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Project HOPE’s Regional Director of Africa, Steven Neri, issued the following statement, urging high-income countries to reconsider plans to administer booster doses to their fully vaccinated population.

“Vaccines need to be directed to low- and middle-income countries. Beating the pandemic and its variants can only be achieved by adopting a shoulder-to-shoulder approach. More than 98 percent of Africa’s population has yet to be vaccinated, and yet several countries are considering booster shots for their populations. This means that countries that have the financial and logistical resources will use even more of the global vaccine supplies to inject their citizens who have already been fully vaccinated, leaving middle- and low-income countries further behind.

“High-income countries continue to make the same mistake as they did when the first vaccines became available: leaving low-income countries at the back of the queue and making it more difficult for them to get the doses required to fully vaccinate their population. They seem to forget that this has contributed to the mutation of the virus and the propagation of new strains, which are now directly causing a rise of infections in the high-income countries. The virus responsible for COVID-19 is incredibly effective at transmitting from one person to the next, as it continues to spread it will continue to mutate. We do not know how it will evolve as it mutates and we can only stop its mutation if we stop transmission. No one is safe until we are all safe.

“Coronavirus deaths in Africa surged by 80 percent in July and many African countries are still facing a devastating third wave of COVID-19 infections. Several of our staff have lost family members in this third wave because hospitals are crumbling under record numbers of infections, running out of ICU beds and oxygen. It’s been devastating to watch our team members feel so helpless, unable to save their loved ones.

“While shipments of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa have ramped up over the last few weeks, African countries have been left so far behind that it is unlikely that the continent will reach its target of vaccinating 10 percent of its population of over 1.2 billion people spread across 55 countries by the end of September.

“The lives of people who live in Africa are as important as the lives of those who live in high-income countries. COVID-19 is reminding us that our lives are interconnected. It is not possible to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in one country until we stop it everywhere. The world must come together to stop the spread and the mutation of the virus, and it must redouble efforts to improve vaccine access to middle- and low-income countries. The concentration of vaccine supplies within a few wealthy nations is a flawed approach that will likely prolong the pandemic.”

About Project HOPE  
With the mission to place power in the hands of local health workers to save lives around the world, Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian organization operating in more than 25 countries. Founded in 1958, we work side-by-side with local health systems to improve health and support community resilience. We work at the epicenter of today’s greatest health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases; disasters and health crises; maternal, neonatal and child health; pandemic preparedness and response; mental health for health workers; and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. For more information, visit www.ProjectHOPE.org and follow us on Twitter @ProjectHOPEorg.

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