The COVID-19 pandemic is still a threat on the African continent given low vaccination rates, the acting director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Thursday.
"The virus is still circulating, and with the low rates of vaccination the pandemic is still very much with us here on the continent," Ahmed Ogwell Ouma told a news conference.
He was responding to a question about whether he agreed with comments by the head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the end of the COVID pandemic was now in sight.
The Africa CDC director said just over 22% of Africa's population was fully vaccinated against COVID and that his agency would continue pushing to raise that number. "The levels of protection are still relatively low," he told reporters.
African countries struggled to secure early supplies of COVID vaccines as rich nations hoarded doses, and more recently hesitancy and logistics problems have made it difficult to get shots into arms.
Ouma said the Africa CDC was focusing on getting as many people on the continent as possible fully vaccinated, not on procuring new vaccines targeting specific variants like Omicron. (Reporting by Alexander Winning and Anait Miridzhanian Editing by James Macharia Chege)