So far, 30 African countries – and at least 142 worldwide – have detected the Omicron variant while the Delta variant has been reported in 42 African nations.
‘Concerted push’ needed’
Through training in bioinformatics, specimen handling and other key areas, WHO is supporting countries across the continent in bolstering genomic sequencing to identify new mutations.The Organization is also helping to procure and deliver critical laboratory equipment and supplies. So far, 30 African countries – and at least 142 worldwide – have detected the Omicron variant while the Delta variant has been reported in 42 African nations. In West Africa, where COVID-19 cases are on the rise, the number of Omicron sequences undertaken by countries including Cabo Verde, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, is growing. And Omicron is currently the dominant variant in both Cabo Verde and Nigeria. “We have the know-how and the tools and with a concerted push we can certainly tip the balance against the pandemic”, said Dr. Moeti.
Stem variants, inoculate
While the continent appears to be weathering the latest pandemic wave, only around 10 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated.However, vaccine supplies to Africa have improved recently, and WHO is stepping up its support to countries to deliver doses to the wider population. “This year should mark a turning point in Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination drive”, said Dr. Moeti. “With vast swaths of the population still unvaccinated, our chances of limiting the emergence and impact of deadly variants are frighteningly slim”, she added.