Delta variant now in 30 African nations, as head of Africa CDC kicks against vaccine misinformation

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, the head of the Africa CDC, Dr. John N. Nkengasong, told reporters on Thursday.

Speaking at a virtual press briefing, Dr. Nkengasong urged those spreading vaccine falsehoods to stick to the facts and highlight that vaccines are effective in protecting against COVID-19, severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths.

“Let’s spread facts and not fear,” Nkengasong said, urging everyone to take personal responsibility in the fight against COVID-19 in Africa.

His comments, as Africa receives more vaccine doses from COVAX, the United States and elsewhere, came even as the Delta variant was detected in four more African countries in the past one week. It is now present in 30 African nations, Nkengasong said.

But there are other variants African nations are currently battling, including the Alpha variant, which is present in 42 countries, the Beta variant in 37 nations and the Delta variant in 30 countries.

  • 42 countries are now reporting the Alpha (B.1.1.7) VOC.
    Since the last briefing, THREE additional Member States (Liberia, Seychelles and Sudan) have reported this variant.
  • ●  37 countries are now reporting the Beta (B.1.351) VOC.
    Since the last briefing, ONE additional Member State (Sudan) has reported this variant.
  • ●  30 countries are now reporting the Delta (B.1.617.2) VOC.
    Since the last briefing, FOUR additional Member States (Eswatini, Lesotho, Sierra Leone and Seychelles) have reported this variant.
  • ●  1 Member State is reporting the Gamma (GR/501Y.V3/P.1+P.1.1+P.1.2) VOC. Since the last briefing, NO Member State has reported this variant.

At least 179,000 people have been killed by COVID-19 in Africa since the pandemic began last year from 7.1 million infections.

More than 6.2 million people have recovered, but the emergence of new strains has complicated things at a time less than 2 percent of Africans remain fully vaccinated against the deadly virus.

Dr. Nkengasong described the meeting he had last week with the U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power as “very productive.”

In Addis Ababa, Power announced approximately $720 million in new funding from the American Rescue Plan to expand and intensify the fight against COVID-19 abroad, respond to humanitarian crises exacerbated by COVID-19, and support a global recovery while preparing for future pandemic threats.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who now leads the U.S. Agency for International Development, gives an opening statement at her U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, U.S., March 23, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS 
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who now leads the U.S. Agency for International Development, gives an opening statement at her U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, U.S., March 23, 2021. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS

In a statement, USAID said approximately $445 million of the total funding is for sub-Saharan Africa to support COVID-19 response and vaccine readiness and urgent humanitarian needs consistent with the African Union’s continental COVID response strategy.

“Of this amount for Africa, approximately $320 million will specifically help address urgent humanitarian needs in nearly 20 countries throughout Africa, helping partners deliver emergency food assistance, prevent the spread of COVID-19 through water, sanitation, and hygiene programs, and provide support for children and psychosocial care for survivors of gender-based violence as well as other protection challenges exacerbated by the pandemic,” read USAID statement.

The U.S. aid agency asserted that while in the United States, 160 million Americans are fully vaccinated, the virus continues to rage around the world and new variants pose a constant threat.

It said “ending the pandemic is vital to keeping Americans safe, saving lives, and rebuilding the U.S. and global economies.”

“Vaccines are a key tool in that effort, and the Biden Administration is committed to that effort,” USAID added.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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