Third COVID-19 wave engulfs Yemen with 99 per cent of people unvaccinated

September 21, 2021

Yemenis are battling a third wave of COVID-19, which threatens 99 per cent of the population who are unvaccinated, Oxfam said today.

Recorded cases of COVID-19 have tripled and the death rate has risen by more than fivefold (420 per cent) in the last month. Excluded from these figures are countless undiagnosed deaths of people in their homes due to the scarcity of tests and hospital beds. Nor does the official death toll of 1649 include the vast majority of Yemeni people who live in the north of the country where COVID-19-related data is not available.

Despite promises that COVAX, the global initiative to deliver vaccines, would achieve at least 23 per cent vaccination coverage in all member countries by the end of this year, less than one per cent of Yemen’s 30.5 million people have so far received one dose and only 0.05 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated.

Half-way through the year the COVAX scheme was already short by 88 per cent of the promised doses for Yemen, having delivered just 511,000 of 4.2 million. Fears that Yemen’s only source of vaccines to date will fail the country again increased last week when the initiative announced it was a half a billion doses short of its global supply target.

Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s in Yemen’s country director, said: “Yemen has one of the highest COVID-19 fatality rates in the world – it simply can’t cope with this virus. The conflict has decimated the already fragile healthcare system. Many people are very weak because they can’t afford to feed themselves properly or to buy basic medicines. Others are unable to afford the cost of transportation to a medical centre because of the ongoing fuel crisis.

“Vaccination is a simple solution that would save lives, but the international community is failing the people of Yemen who need doses now. We need the vaccines that have been promised but it is also shameful that having bought up all the vaccines for themselves, rich countries like the UK and Germany are blocking the solutions that would see the rights and recipes of these lifesaving vaccines shared so that more can be produced for countries like Yemen. Protecting lives should be more important than protecting the outsized profits of pharmaceutical corporations who have already made billions from this crisis.”

Over four million Yemenis have been displaced during the conflict with around two million living in Marib, currently the site of fierce fighting. Conditions in the camps are dire, many people have no access to clean water, sanitation facilities or healthcare.

According to the UN two out of three Yemenis lack access to healthcare services. Seven years on from the start of the conflict, only an estimated half of healthcare facilities are still operating. An estimated 20 million Yemenis need healthcare assistance including 5.9 million children. Sources report that Yemen’s doctors in public hospitals have been working unpaid with some sleeping in hospitals and clinics as they cannot afford accommodation.

This year the UN requested donor countries to provide $3.9 billion for essential humanitarian aid – so far less than half has been donated with healthcare only receiving 11 per cent of the funds it needs.

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Notes to editors:

COVID-19 STATS:

  • Number of cases of COVID August 2020 – September 19, 2021 = 1260
  • Number of cases of COVID July 2020 – August 19, 2021 = 420
  • Number of deaths due to COVID August 2020 – September 19, 2021 = 229
  • Number of deaths due to COVID July 2020 – August 19, 2021 = 44
  • Source – Johns Hopkins University
  • Vaccine supply raw data from Airfinity, Vaccination raw data from Our World in Data (All vaccine data from 20.09.21).

COVAX Total supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses

4,191,600

COVAX Total vaccine deliveries

511,000

Delivery as % of total supply

12%

Doses administered

322,934

Population fully vaccinated

0.05%

Population partially vaccinated

0.96%

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Paula Baker
Media Relations
Oxfam Canada
(613) 240-3047

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