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Vaccine syringe production needs urgent boost amid pandemic – WHO

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Vaccine syringe production needs urgent boost amid pandemic – WHO

Covid-19 vaccines and syringes

28th October 2021

By: Thabi Madiba
Creamer Media Senior Research Assistant and Reporter

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World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti on Thursday called for drastic measures to boost vaccine syringe production.

Moeti warned that limited access to crucial commodities, such as syringes, may slow the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in Africa.

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She was speaking during a virtual press conference citing a Unicef report cautioning of an imminent shortfall of up to 2.2-billion auto-disable syringes for Covid-19 vaccination and routine immunisation in 2022.

Moeti said this included 0.3 ml auto-disposable syringes for Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination. 

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“There is no global stockpile of the 0.3 ml specialised syringes, which differ from the 0.5 ml syringes used for other types of Covid-19 vaccines and routine vaccination. The market for 0.3 ml auto-disable syringes is tight and extremely competitive. As such, these are in short supply and will remain so through at least the first quarter of next year,” she explained.

Covid-19 vaccines could start pouring into Africa early next year, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyse progress.

Africa has recorded nearly 8.5-million Covid-19 cases and more than 217 000 deaths.

Some African countries, such as Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, have already experienced delays in receiving syringes.

Moeti said the COVAX Facility is working to address the shortage by securing deals with syringe manufacturers, and through better planning to avoid deliveries outpacing the supply of syringes.

To date, around 50-million Covid-19 vaccine doses arrived in Africa in October, which is almost double what was shipped in September. COVAX has delivered almost 90% of the vaccines deployed in October and has accelerated its shipments since July.

However, at the current pace, Africa still faces a 275-million shortfall of Covid-19 vaccines against the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of the population. 

Africa has 77-million fully vaccinated people, just 6% of its population.

Moeti said ten African countries are still in resurgence, including four with upward trends or high plateaus: Gabon, Congo, Cameroon and Egypt.

The Delta variant has been found in 41 countries, the Alpha variant in 47, and Beta in 43.

 

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