Sub-Saharan Africa is losing the race to vaccinate its population against COVID-19.
As of November 15, only about 4 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has been fully vaccinated, up from merely 1 percent three months ago.
It took 27 and 56 days to achieve the same milestone in advanced economies and other emerging markets and developing economies, respectively.
The World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 10 percent of population by end-September was reached by only five sub-Saharan African countries.
Only a handful of countries in the region are expected to reach a target set by the IMF, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization and World Bank to vaccinate 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021.
The lack of vaccines weighs on the region’s growth outlook, contributing to the dangerous divergence with advanced economies.
Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be the world’s slowest growing region in 2021, with a permanently lower path of real GDP that could have long-lasting consequences for social and political stability.
Furthermore, continued delays to the vaccine rollout leave sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world exposed to new, more virulent strains of the virus. Thus, it is essential that the international community step up a concerted effort to ensure that the global supply of vaccines is distributed swiftly and fairly.
Shushanik Hakobyan is a Senior Economist working on regional surveillance in the IMF’s African Department. Her research interests include trade policy, trade and labor markets, and preferential market access. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Review of Economics and Statistics and Canadian Journal of Economics. Prior to joining the IMF in 2017, she was an Assistant Professor at Fordham University, Georgetown University and Middlebury College. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from University of Virginia.
This article first appeared at the IMFBlog, a forum for the views of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff and officials on pressing economic and policy issues of the day. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF and its Executive Board. Reprinted with permission.