January 28th, local time, the WHO Regional Office for Africa held an online press conference in Brazzaville, the capital of the Congo, to introduce the spread of COVID-19 Variant strains in Africa and the response strategies in Africa.
According to Moti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, there were more than 175,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 6,200 deaths in Africa last week.
The infection rate in the four weeks from December 29, 2020 to January 25, 2021, was affected by the COVID-19 Variant strain, up by 50% compared with the previous four weeks, and the death toll tripled to more than 15,000.
Moti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, pointed out, “We have found that the variant strain 501Y.V2 of the novel coronavirus that first appeared in South Africa has increasingly appeared in other countries and regions in Africa.
So far, six African countries and regions have announced the discovery of this Variant strain, such as Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, French Mayotte and Zambia.
In addition, the Variant strain has also been found in 24 countries outside Africa. We are very worried that this Variant strain has spread in some other countries in Africa, but it has not been discovered yet.”
In addition to the Variant strain 501Y.V2 found in South Africa, the Variant strain originally found in the United Kingdom has also been found in Gambia and Nigeria.
WHO is conducting in-depth research to determine whether Variant strains can cause more severe diseases, and is helping many countries in Africa to establish COVID-19 genome sequencing laboratories to enhance the ability of virus genome detection.
Morty believes that the slackness of the pandemic and the second wave of the pandemic are overloading the health care systems in many African countries. African countries should continue to increase testing, isolate close contacts, and improve the ability to treat patients.
When the coronavirus vaccine will be in place is also one of the most important concerns of participants.
African countries will cover about 35% of the population by the end of 2021 through the Coronavirus Vaccine Implementation Plan (COVAX) and the AU procurement plan, according to WHO officials.
To this end, Richard Mihigo, head of the WHO Regional Immunization and Vaccine Development Project in Africa, said: “With regard to the coronavirus vaccine, the African Union has reached purchase agreements with some pharmaceutical companies, such as the purchase of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine produced by the Indian Serum Institute, and some Pfizer vaccines.
Finally, I would like to say that WHO has been studying the possibility of emergency use of other candidate vaccines. We are currently evaluating the Chinese national medicine vaccine.