World faces shortage of syringes as COVID vaccine doses rise
African health officials and the United Nations are warning of a looming shortage of up to 2 billion syringes for mainly low- and middle-income countries around the world as the supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses rises, and routine vaccinations could be affected, too.
South Africa ramps up vaccine drive, too late for this surge
Some in wheelchairs, others on canes, hundreds of South Africans waited recently on the ramps of an open-air Johannesburg parking garage to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots. New infections in South Africa rose to record levels in recent days, part of a rapid rise across the continent, and experts say the surge here hasn't yet peaked. To fight the new wave, South Africa reimposed several restrictions, including shutting restaurants and bars and limiting alcohol sales — and its vaccination drive is finding its feet after several stumbles.news.yahoo.com
Huge New Wave Is the COVID Nightmare Scientists Feared Most
FETHI BELAIDCoroners in Tunisia—which is experiencing its fourth and worst wave of the COVID-19 pandemic— have run out of space, meaning the dead are often left in crowded hospital rooms alongside still suffering patients for 24 hours. The morgues are full, the health ministry says. Even the dead, it seems, are suffering.“We are in a catastrophic situation… the boat is sinking,” Tunisia’s health ministry spokesperson Nisaf Ben Alaya told reporters this week. “The health system collapsed, we cannews.yahoo.com
Alarm in Africa: Virus surges, vaccines grind to 'near halt'
COVID-19 vaccine shipments have ground to “a near halt” in Africa while virus cases have spiked 20% over the last two weeks, the World Health Organization said Thursday, a bleak scenario for the continent on both those critical fronts. More than 1 million J&J doses that should have already been put to use remain on hold at a pharmaceuticals plant in South Africa because of contamination concerns at a U.S. factory. The head of the Africa CDC said he expects an update in the coming days from U.S. federal regulators on those and other doses of J&J, which he called an essential vaccine for Africa because it's a one-dose shot and doesn't need the ultra-cold storage facilities required by others.news.yahoo.com
Africa welcomes COVAX doses but warns against 'selfishness'
“It’s a concern, and everyone is talking about it.”The East African nation of 45 million people was receiving under 1 million vaccine doses — 864,000. It’s the first batch of a total of 18 million COVAX doses for Uganda, but when all will arrive is not known. While the COVAX initiative was created to ensure that low- and middle-income countries receive COVID-19 vaccines, it has faced delays and limited supply. And Nigeria began its vaccination campaign after Africa’s most populous country received almost 4 million doses. AdThe COVAX delays have pushed other African countries to seek more doses elsewhere, including via bilateral deals that can be unfavorable.
WHO says more than 11,000 Ebola vaccines will go to Guinea
WHO regional director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said Thursday that 11,000 Ebola vaccines are being prepared in Geneva and are expected to arrive in Guinea over the weekend. The WHO has called on six African countries to be on high alert for Ebola infections after both Guinea and Congo recorded cases in recent weeks. As of Thursday, Guinea has recorded three confirmed Ebola cases, including one death, according to WHO. Health officials hope to stem the spread of Ebola in West Africa, which experienced the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history from 2014 to 2016 that killed more than 11,300 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Tests have since shown he was negative for Ebola, according to Ministry of Health and Sanitation spokesman Harold Thomas.
African nations still encouraged to use AstraZeneca vaccine
African countries without the coronavirus variant dominant in South Africa should go ahead and use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, while the World Health Organization suggested the vaccine even for countries with the variant circulating widely. No other has expressed concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine. The African continent has seen an average 18% decrease in new virus cases over the past four weeks, which Nkengasong called encouraging. The African continent on Sunday will mark one year since the first virus case was confirmed there, in Egypt. “We cannot afford today to have the same pace and time for access to (COVID-19) vaccines,” he said.
Congo working to stop new Ebola outbreak in country's east
FILE - In this Saturday, July 13, 2019 file photo, a child is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Congo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, file)BENI – Health officials in Congo confirmed another Ebola outbreak in the country’s east on Sunday, the fourth in less than three years. On February 3, a woman died in Butembo town in North Kivu province, Minister of Health Eteni Longondo announced. AdHealth officials worry a new Ebola outbreak could badly affect the nation’s fragile health system, especially as it faces a resurgence of COVID-19. The Ebola virus is highly contagious and can be contracted through bodily fluids such as vomit, blood, or semen.
Increased testing needed as Africa sees rise in virus cases
FILE In this Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020 file photo, a long-distance traveller undergoes a COVID-19 test at a mobile clinic at a taxi rank at Johannesburg's main railway station. The level of testing across Africa is considerably less than what health experts say is needed to effectively control the spread of the disease. Just 10 countries — South Africa, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Cameroon — are carrying out more than 70% of the continent’s testing. Increased testing is needed to help Africa locate where cases are rising and where additional medical responses are needed. In efforts to track the level of infections in communities, countries such as South Africa and Ghana are testing for the prevalence of COVID-19 in sewage water.
WHO, UNICEF urge African countries to reopen schools safely
(AP Photo/Denis Farrell, file)JOHANNESBURG African governments should accelerate the reopening of schools, the World Health Organization has urged, saying that the continent's youths will suffer from prolonged closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only six African countries have fully opened schools, according to a survey of 39 countries by WHO and UNICEF. Many governments closed schools as part of measures to limit the transmission of the coronavirus. Just as countries are opening businesses safely, we can reopen schools, said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. Reopening schools has been particularly challenging in Africa, where millions of children attend crowded classrooms, and schools often lack running water and proper toilets.
African nation blasts 'inequality crisis' in virus testing
The minister said his country of more than 4 million people is still waiting for testing supplies ordered via the WHO. Central African Republic has more than 4,300 confirmed virus cases a small fraction of the more than 644,000 across Africa but the true number is unknown. Confirmed virus cases across Africa have jumped by 23% in the past week, and South Africa makes up nearly half of all cases. In some African countries the more you test the more cases you find, Moeti said, but not always. She noted that had not occurred in Senegal when the country produced its own test kits and significantly expanded testing.
Africa's confirmed COVID-19 cases now above a half-million
(AP Photo/Denis Farrell)JOHANNESBURG Africa now has more than a half-million confirmed coronavirus cases. A tremendous problem, a real crisis of access, the World Health Organizations Africa chief, Matshidiso Moeti, said last week. So far most testing has been concentrated in capital cities, but infections in many cases have spread beyond them. This week alone, some anxious health workers in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Congo and Sierra Leone have gone on strike or demonstrated for adequate protective gear or better pay. The African continent has just 2.2 health workers and 0.3 doctors per 1,000 people, according to the WHO.
Africa starts opening airspace even as COVID-19 cases climb
Thats even as Africa had more than 463,000 confirmed virus cases as of Sunday and South Africa, its most developed economy, already struggles to care for COVID-19 patients. Senegals president has said international flights will begin on July 15. Kenya Airways wants to resume international flights. And she suggested that when we see a flare-up that is unacceptable in virus cases, the loosening of travel restrictions could be reversed. African nations can seize the moment and do more tourism at home, Amani Abou-Zeid, AU commissioner for infrastructure and energy, told reporters last week.
Aid groups alarmed by little US coronavirus assistance
But much of that aid has been tied up in uncharacteristic delays nearly three months after the passage of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, the letter from aid groups says. Other aid organizations signing the letter include CARE USA, the Norwegian Refugee Council USA, American Jewish World Service, WaterAid and Physicians for Peace. In fact, just 50 ventilators have arrived in Africa from the U.S. government, all of them going to South Africa in recent days. A State Department official on Thursday said the U.S. has pledged ventilator assistance to Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Rwanda as well. It has been a challenging time for many countries to fight their own pandemic.___Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg contributed to this report.