JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The World Health Organization does not expect any immediate impact on vaccine supply to Africa from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, senior officials on the continent said on Thursday.
Russia’s Sputnik vaccines are part of an effort by wealthier countries to plug the COVID-19 vaccine gap in Africa, but so far they remain a minimal component of imports to the continent.
Russia’s invasion entered its second week on Thursday and there are concerns that the focus on the war could interrupt vaccine shipments to Africa.
Richard Mihigo, the programme area manager for WHO Africa, told a weekly online news conference that Russia’s Sputnik COVID-19 vaccines were a minimal component of imports to the continent.
“In the short term, there will be very little impact on the vaccine supply overall in the region,” Mihigo said.”We need to look at the mid- to long-term impact of this military offensive, and the economic sanctions – it is very difficult to say (now what the effect will be).”
Only 13% of Africans are fully vaccinated, lagging most of the rest of the world.
(Reporting by George Obulutsa and James Macharia Chege, editing by Mark Heinrich)