📺 LIVE: Tune in for @WHOAFRO press briefing on #COVID19 testing & treatment in #Africa. Dr @MoetiTshidi will be joined by @GlobalFund's Dr Harley Feldbaum & @ICAP_ColumbiaU's Dr Andrea Howard.https://t.co/HgJ1BwWYvF
— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) January 20, 2022
The Omicron variant has now been reported in 36 African countries, and 169 nations all over the world.
‘Yet to turn the tables’ on COVID
According to WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the acceleration, peak and decline of this last wave has been “unmatched”, but its impact has been moderate, with fewer deaths and lower hospitalizations.
Despite those numbers, Dr. Moeti believes that Africa “has yet to turn the tables on this pandemic.”
“So long as the virus continues to circulate, further pandemic waves are inevitable. Africa must not only broaden vaccinations, but also gain increased and equitable access to critical COVID-19 therapeutics to save lives and effectively combat this pandemic,” she said.
The current case fatality ratio (the death toll per infections) in the continent remains the highest in the world, although it dropped during the last two waves of variants.
In terms of medication, patients with severe forms of the virus are being treated with corticosteroids and medical oxygen. Corticosteroids are largely available and relatively affordable, but availability of medical oxygen remains a challenge.
In addition, African countries face major impediments in accessing other treatments due to limited availability and high cost.
Last week, WHO recommended two new drugs, raising the number of WHO approved therapeutics to 11, and the agency is now reviewing the data on two oral medications that promise to reduce risk of hospitalization.
Following negotiations with the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, the agency is supporting the shipment of a limited number of vials of Tocilizumab, a drug used to treat patients with severe cases.
Cape Verde and Uganda have already received vials. Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania are due to receive some in the next few weeks.
Further larger-scale deliveries are expected, with negotiations underway through the ACT-Accelerator partnership.