Sunday, December 13, 2020

The Great Vaccine Divide

Africa’s top public health official (right) has said “it will be extremely terrible to see” rich countries receiving Covid-19 vaccines while African countries go without it, especially as a new wave in cases begins on the continent of 1.3 billion people. 

As the world watches mass vaccinations begin in the UK and elsewhere, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director John Nkengasong warned on Thursday that Africa might not see vaccines until after the second quarter of 2021. 

Nkengasong called it a “moral issue” – his remarks come a day after a report released by the People’s Vaccine Alliance warned that as many as 90 percent of the population in dozens of poorer countries will miss out on the coronavirus vaccine next year. 

In the report, the alliance said rich countries have stockpiled enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over, leaving some 67 poor countries with only enough to vaccinate one of 10 people. 

I know, right – read my Friday’s post titled “70 Million Cases” where Australia is one of the countries hoarding vaccines like nobody’s business. 

Also, Canada has bought enough doses to vaccinate its population five times over, according to Oxfam. 

Africa will not receive nearly enough vaccines from COVAX to reach the goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity, Nkengasong said, and he appealed to countries with excess doses to give them to COVAX or countries in need. 

“We need to show global cooperation, global solidarity”, he said. “The time to translate those powerful words into action is now”. 

As Stephen Cockburn (left), Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said: “Rich countries have clear human rights obligations not only to refrain from actions that could harm access to vaccines elsewhere but also to cooperate and provide assistance to countries that need it”. 

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