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Huge decline in Covid-19 vaccinations since Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, says UNICEF

Huge decline in Covid-19 vaccinations since Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, says UNICEF
The UN has warned that the number of Covid-19 vaccinations in Afghanistan has dropped off by 80% since the Taliban completed its takeover with the capture of Kabul less than two weeks ago, citing the chaotic conditions there.

Speaking to Reuters on Wednesday, a UNICEF spokesperson warned that around half of the doses delivered to Afghanistan are nearing their expiry date. Two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is half of the total shots delivered, are due to expire at the end of November. J&J's vaccine only requires a single shot.

While the spokesman contended that it was vital that these shots were utilized as soon as possible, he noted that there had been a huge drop-off in the administration of Covid-19 vaccines since the Taliban capture of Kabul.

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Since the Taliban takeover "there's been an 80% drop in people reached with COVID-19 vaccines," the spokesperson asserted, adding that the decline is understandable as the situation on the ground is chaotic. "People will prioritize their safety and security first," they added.

UNICEF claims that only 30,500 people were vaccinated in 23 of the 34 Afghan provinces in the week starting August 15, down from 134,600 people in 30 provinces the week before.

According to Gavi, which co-runs the Covax facility for vaccine sharing with the World Health Organization (WHO), four million shots have been delivered to the war-torn nation. However, WHO data suggest that only 1.2 million vaccines have been administered as of August 20, this in a country of nearly 40 million.

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