Corona in Africa: Few people vaccinated, but no crisis

As of December 30, 2021 10:04 a.m.

So far, only eight percent of all Africans have been fully vaccinated against Covid19. But the infection and death rates on the continent are comparatively low. Virologists see several reasons for this.

By Linda Staude, ARD Studio Nairobi

The state vaccination center in the small town of Kikuyu has been full again since the Kenyan government practically excluded unvaccinated people from public life. Dozens of people who want to be vaccinated are waiting for their syringes. “Keep your distance”, one employee warns again and again. In the next room, Irine Mwangira injects the corona vaccine. “We’re supposed to vaccinate 300 people here every day and we also get the 300 doses we need,” she says.

“The world discriminates against Africa”

This is by no means the case everywhere. Vaccine is scarce on the African continent. 250 million doses have been delivered so far, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO). Just three percent of the world’s vaccinations against Covid19 were given in Africa.

“This is vaccine apartheid,” says medical advisor and pathologist Ahmed Kalebi. “The world is discriminating against Africa. Some countries have everything, 60 to 65 percent of their population are vaccinated. And they have supplies, two or three times more than their population.” In contrast, only eight percent of all Africans are fully vaccinated.

Significantly fewer corona deaths than in the rest of the world

Nevertheless, the feared corona catastrophe on the continent has not yet materialized. The WHO has so far registered more than 220,000 corona deaths. Even if the numbers should be treated with caution, this is significantly less than in the rest of the world.

Virologists speculate about reasons: “70 percent of our population is under 30. The average age is 17 years. Most likely that has protected us to a certain extent,” says John Nkengasong, the head of the highest disease protection agency of the African Union.

“Curfews really stopped the virus”: John Nkengasong, head of the African Union’s highest disease protection agency.


The roads, which are often miserable, are hindering vaccination campaigns, but they have also slowed the spread of the virus. In addition, many countries have quickly adopted rigorous corona protective measures. “I cannot stress enough how important it was that action was taken so early. For example, the curfews really stopped the virus,” says Nkengasong.

Studies: contamination much higher

Officially, the number of infections is low. But that is more due to the fact that little is tested. According to recent studies, the infection rate in Africa is much higher. In Nairobi, between 50 and 70 percent of the population have been infected with Covid19 – often without noticing it. This is also a reason for the relatively low number of cases.

“We have to be very careful about transferring these successes to the future. This virus remains a problem and is spreading rapidly,” says Nkengasong.

Since nobody knows whether and how long a survived corona infection will protect against re-infection, vaccination must also be carried out across Africa, says Ahmed Kalebi. And for that, enough vaccine has to be delivered to the continent. “Even from a scientific point of view, there is no point in the rich countries hoarding the vaccine. If there is no vaccination elsewhere, there is a risk that new virus variants will develop there. They will also spread in these countries, where vaccination is then repeated Must. That can’t be the point. “

Africa’s corona miracle: no Covid crisis despite lack of vaccines

Linda Staude, ARD Nairobi, December 30th, 2021 8:47 am

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