Vaccination coverage against Covid-19 is still below 10% of the population in about 20 countries, most of which are African, warned the expert committee of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus have been distributed at an “unprecedented” pace around the world, with almost all countries administering the first doses in less than 12 months, the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE, 2010) said.

“Despite this, around 20 countries, most of them from Africa, but also from the Eastern Mediterranean, America, the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia, have not yet passed the 10% mark of their vaccinated population”, lamented Kate O'Brien, head of vaccination at the WHO at a press conference.

“These are countries that are working hard to advance their programs” of immunization against SARS-CoV-2, stressed the WHO expert, assuring that the organization, together with its partners, is supporting the development of these vaccination plans.

“This is where our work is focused. We need to ensure that it is high-risk populations – the majority at risk of serious illness or death, as well as healthcare workers – receive vaccines with priority”, said Kate O’Brien.

Insufficient levels

According to WHO data, at a global level, vaccination coverage of the groups considered to be priority is still “insufficient”, since it only covers 65% of health professionals and 69% of people aged 60 or over.

The Geneva-based organization also added that the international mechanism for accessing vaccines against Covid-19 (Covax) has sufficient doses to immunize 70% of the population of the 92 low- and middle-income economies by June. In 2021, the WHO has set a target of vaccinating 70% of the population of each country by mid-2022.

Covax, which aims to ensure global equality in access to vaccines, has so far delivered more than 1.4 billion doses in 145 countries, a number that is below the initially planned two billion doses by the end of 2021.