June 24, 2020 / 12:24 PM / 2 months ago

All African countries now have coronavirus lab testing capacity - WHO chief

Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a news conference on the situation of the coronavirus (COVID-2019), in Geneva, Switzerland, February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - All African countries have now developed laboratory capacity to test for the coronavirus, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also warned that the pandemic was accelerating.

“The most recent one million cases of COVID-19 were reported in just one week,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual conference on COVID-19 vaccine development and access across the continent.

The WHO chief added that over 220 vaccine candidates are currently being worked on and urged that a vaccine be “available and developed at an unprecedented scale.”

The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control called on countries to secure sufficient vaccine supplies to avoid Africa being left out.

“Unless we act now Africa is at risk of being left behind in the global vaccine race,” John Nkengasong said.

Nkengasong suggested a key step would be for Africa to partner with the GAVI vaccines alliance which has raised $2 billion from international donors for an Advanced Market Commitment to buy future COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries.

Reporting by Giulia Paravicini; Editing by Toby Chopra

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