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How Africa Can Save the World From a Never-Ending Pandemic

If Africa is not vaccinated and remains a source of coronavirus mutations, the whole world will be at risk.

A nurse awaits to receive a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban. 

A nurse awaits to receive a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban. 

Photographer: Mlunggisi Mbele/AFP/Getty Images

As the rest of the world prepares for a vaccine-driven return to normal over the next few months, at her community health center in a poor, working class neighborhood of Cape Town, Andrea Mendelsohn is dreading the arrival of April and May—that’s when the weather will get cooler in the southern hemisphere and bring a surge in coronavirus cases.

Few people in South Africa—aside from medical staff like Mendelsohn—will be vaccinated by then. Elsewhere on the continent even health workers won’t be inoculated, making Africa a large reservoir of the virus that has infected almost 117 million people across the globe and killed more than 2.5 million.