The Omicron factor the media won't tell you about

In fact, several African countries have sent back vaccines: The problem they face is one of demand, not supply. Five of the eight countries from which the Biden administration has suspended travel have pumped the brakes on new vaccine shipments, even as cases have increased, because the countries have more doses than health officials can administer.

Across the continent, vaccine hesitancy remains high. A recent survey that spans five West African countries found that 6 in 10 people were vaccine hesitant—compared with 13 percent or less in France, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe and 27 percent in the United States. Another study of six different African countries found that less than half of respondents said they would definitely or probably get the vaccine. As the World Bank notes, concerns around efficacy, safety, and side effects for the vaccine are commonplace, as is distrust in vaccines developed by Western countries. In Zimbabwe, even getting health care workers vaccinated is a challenge, and the president of the 12,000-member Zimbabwe Nurses Association points out that “the uptake of the vaccine is low among health workers.”