1. COVID-19 Recovery Slowed by Omicron Variant, Low Vaccine Adherence
Just as COVID-19 vaccine availability in Africa began escalating, with increased production from drug companies and expanded donations from wealthy countries, the Omicron variant emerged. First detected in South Africa and Botswana, Omicron prompted renewed travel bans (since rescinded) and exacerbated an already difficult economic recovery from the pandemic. As COVID-19 continues to slow African productivity and growth, the pandemic is spurring some African countries to digitalize their economies, invest more in healthcare, and promote local industries. At the same time, debt levels are rising as African governments try to cushion the economic fallout. While Africa accounts for less than five percent of global COVID-19 cases and deaths, higher vaccination rates are critical to preventing increased disease spread. With logistical complications and healthcare worker and equipment shortages posing huge challenges, most African countries have yet to vaccinate even 10 percent of their populations.