In Africa, vaccine hesitancy adds to slow rollout of doses
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Some Africans are hesitating to get COVID-19 vaccines amid concerns about their safety, alarming public health officials as some countries start to destroy thousands of doses that expired before use.
Malawi and South Sudan in recent days have said they will destroy some of their doses, a concerning development on a continent where health officials have been outspoken about the need for vaccine equity as the world's rich nations hold the bulk of shots.
Africa, whose 1.3 billion people represent 16% of the world's population, has received less than 2% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses administered around the world, according to the World Health 0rganization.
The continent has confirmed more than 4.5 million COVID-19 cases, including 120,000 deaths, a tiny fraction of the global fatalities and caseload. But some experts worry that the 54-nation continent will suffer in the long term if it takes longer than expected to meet the threshold scientists believe is needed to stop uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 — 70% or higher of the population having immunity through vaccination or past infection.
Africa seeks to vaccinate up to 60% of its people by the end of 2022.
Achieving that goal will require about 1.5 billion vaccine doses for Africa if the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine continues to be widely used. But safety concerns relating to that vaccine, often the main shot available under the donor-backed COVAX program to ensure access for developing countries, have left some Africans worried.
Vaccine-related suspicions have been spread widely on social media, driven partly by a general lack of trust in authorities. Uganda's health minister had to refute allegations she faked receiving a shot, even posting a video of herself getting the jab on Twitter, along...