NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Africa’s top health official said Thursday he wants to believe that India will lift export restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible, warning that “India is not an island” while some African nations still have seen no shots at all.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke as the African continent of 1.3 billion people doesn’t know when second doses of key vaccines will arrive and India sees a devastating resurgence in infections. India is a major vaccine producer and a key supplier to the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative aiming to bring shots to some of the world’s poorest countries.
“If you finish vaccinating your people before Africa or other parts of the world, you have not done yourself any justice because variants will emerge and undermine your own vaccination efforts,“ Nkengasong said in a weekly press briefing, highlighting what has become a global crisis with as many as 60 countries possibly stalled at their first shots.
He said the uncertainty around the arrival of second doses puts the African continent in a “very dicey situation.” Some countries have already exhausted their initial vaccine doses, including Ghana and Rwanda, he said.
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