As the United Kingdom, Canada, and other developed nations begin the mass inoculation after purchasing millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer and BioNtech, the African CDC lambasted the vaccine inequality that will have poorer nations left behind.
Amid a new surge in the African countries, Africa’s top public health official said in a state press conference that it will be “extremely terrible” to see wealthier nations benefit from vaccines while a continent of 1.3 billion people will only watch. Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong warned that the African population might get the vaccine only in the second quarter of 2021.
Appealing to the United Nations to call a special meeting for fair distribution of vaccines, Nkengasong said that the global organisation must cement the North-South distrust with respect to vaccines for the common good of the world. The coronavirus pandemic will not be defeated if there are irregularities, he warned. He alleged that the wealthier nations continue to hoard the vaccines “in excess of their needs while we in Africa are still struggling with the COVAX facility.”
Furthermore, the African CDC expressed concern that the content might not even get enough supply of the vaccines for its entire population from WHO’s COVAX arrangement to hit the critical population of 60 percent for herd immunity from the COVID-19 disease. This could lead to an endemic in Africa, Nkengasong stressed, adding that it will be a “real problem” as he made an appeal for equitable access. The African CDC chief’s remarks come as the continent hit a total of 2.3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with at least 100,000 infections recorded in the last week.
Macron proposed ‘donation mechanism’
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a donation mechanism to make the coronavirus vaccine available to the vulnerable population in developing countries. In a conference at UN General Assembly’s first special session on COVID-19, Macron said, “These doses, whether they come from Europe, China, Russia or the United States, whether they are the fruit of donations from states or pharmaceutical companies, would thus be allocated effectively and fairly, on the basis of WHO recommendation.”
The French President had also insisted the same at the virtual G20 meeting, where he emphasised that the globe must create a system that includes disturbing first doses of potential coronavirus vaccines to “least developed countries”.