The United States has said it will ship nearly 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria and South Africa as the continent battles the third wave of infections.
White House officials said four million doses of the Moderna (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine will go to Nigeria and 5.66 million doses of the Pfizer (PFE.N) vaccine to South Africa.
Nigeria has confirmed 171,728 cases of COVID-19 in total with 4,747 still active. 164,847 have been discharged and 2, 134 deaths recorded, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
The South Africa shipment is the single largest sent by the United States since it began sending vaccine shots overseas, one of the officials said. The latest shipments bring the total number of U.S. vaccine doses sent to Africa to 16.4 million.
Last week, African countries had administered just 60 million vaccine doses to a population that numbers over 1.3 billion, in part due to restrictions on shipments from vaccine-producing countries like India.
The White House said equitable global access to safe and effective vaccines was essential to ending the pandemic.
“We are working to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people around the world as fast as possible,” one of the White House officials told Reuters.
With the latest shipment to Nigeria and South Africa, the United States will exceed the 80 million vaccine doses that U.S. President Joe Biden had pledged in May to donate to countries around the world, one of the officials said.
United States President Biden in June announced plans to buy and donate 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses to 92 low- and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union.
The White House official said those shipments will begin next month