Sub-Saharan Africa Struggles to Keep Up Its Vaccinations

vaccination for a child A doctor is administering a vaccine to a young girl, who is supported by a nurse.

As countries around the world race to vaccinate their citizens against COVID-19, Sub-Saharan Africa is falling behind. In a world where more than 56 percent of the population stands fully vaccinated, a worrying 85 percent of Sub-Saharan Africans remains unprotected by the vaccine. According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), “thirteen countries are yet to surpass 10 percent of their population fully vaccinated, including two of the most populous countries in the region, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo.” 

Due to the lack of vaccines, Sub-Saharan countries will likely endure the greatest economic losses in the world caused by COVID-19, exacerbating the gap with advanced economies. Thus far, the countries suffering the most losses are Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. A study done by the WHO shows the GDP of these low-income countries could have increased by $16.27 billion in 2021 if they reached the same vaccination rate as high-income countries. Instead, their GDP is only projected to expand by 3.8 percent in 2022, representing the lowest rate in the world.

Not all hope is lost, however. There have been promising efforts to improve the economic and COVID-19 situation. For example, partnering with Moderna, the Kenyan government is building a vaccine manufacturing facility, and close to 8.2 million doses were administered per week in the region in March 2022.

By Arielsie Li