The World Health Organization warned of a third wave of coronavirus infections throughout Africa amid a massive surge of new cases.
“In the last two weeks, Africa recorded a 20% increase in cases compared with the previous fortnight,” the WHO said in a statement Thursday. “The pandemic is trending upwards in 14 countries and in the past week alone, eight countries witnessed an abrupt rise of over 30% in cases.”
The organization said the recent spike likely can be attributed to the coming African winter, an increase in travel and easing restrictions too early. Africa has had 3.7% of the world’s coronavirus deaths but only 2.9% of reported cases, according to the WHO.
WHO officials said vaccine distribution has also lagged in African countries — 31.4 million doses have been administered in 50 countries on the continent, where about 2% of the population has received a dose compared to 24% globally.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, said “the threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising.”
“Our priority is clear — it’s crucial that we swiftly get vaccines into the arms of Africans at high risk of falling seriously ill and dying of COVID-19,” he said.
President Biden announced Thursday he will send 25 million vaccine doses abroad, including 5 million to Africa.