Zim at risk of COVID-19 fifth wave

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BY METHEMBE SIBANDA

ZIMBABWE is among a number of African countries at risk of experiencing a fifth wave of COVID-19 owing to underfunding and continued failure to vaccinate marginalised communities, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

Neighbouring South Africa may have already been hit by the fifth COVID-19 wave following a sustained rise in infections during the past 14 days driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants.

The Omicron variants were first detected in Botswana and South Africa.

WHO health emergencies director Michael Ryan said countries such as Zimbabwe were not out of the woods yet.

“There is still a huge issue at the centre of this pandemic, marginalisation, exclusion and lack of access across a range of issues not just to the vaccine, but to antivirals, to tests, to basic clinical care, to basic accommodation, to information, and to nutrition. All of these things have been inequitable in this pandemic, and this pandemic has uncovered so many of these inequities,” he said.

Ryan urged countries not to declare victory yet because some countries were still lagging behind in terms of vaccine access due to a lack of information and distorted health systems.

“The fact that if you are living in a society where you are marginalised, for one thing, you are likely to be marginalised for many things and you are likely to be on the bad end of a COVID-19 experience. So, if we are to address the COVID-19 issues we have to address immunisation for the future and address how we do research and development,” Ryan added.

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