Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
16 Sep 2021
8:35 am

‘Worst pandemic in 100 years’ and still no vaccine equity for Africa

Cheryl Kahla

Only 2% of the more than 5.7 billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa.

A patient receives the Covid-19 vaccine, administered by nurse Andrina Mabaso, 7 September 2021, at the Rhema Bible Church vaccination site in Bromhof, Randburg. Picture: Michel Bega

The World Health Organization (WHO) and a group of global health leaders on Tuesday issued an urgent call for vaccine equity globally, particularly in Africa. 

A statement issued by the WHO stressed that it’s the “worst pandemic in the last Thunder years”. Unfortunately, it will not end “until there is genuine global cooperation”.

Global vaccine equity

To date, approximately 90% of high-income countries have reached the 10% target, and more than 70% have reached the 40% target.

Meanwhile, not a single low-income country has reached either target.

Only 2% for Africa

WHO’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted with concern that more 5.7 billion doses have been given globally, but only 2% of those have been administered in Africa.

Ghebreyesus said it “doesn’t only hurt the people of Africa, it hurts all of us”.

If the unequal distribution of vaccines persists, the virus will continue to mutate and circulate, which in turn will lead to extended periods of social and economic disruption.

If vaccine administration slows down, the virus will have room to mutate, which may render the vaccine ineffective against future mutations and strains.

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A miracle for ‘all mankind’

While vaccine sharing is encouraged, Ghebreyesus says the world should not have to be relying on vaccine sharing when structures can be put in place to assist struggling countries.

It was a great miracle to have these vaccines, now let this miracle be available to all mankind.

In addition, it costs Africa approximately $29 billion of production for every month of lockdowns. UN under-secretary-general, Vera Songwe, added

“For [the African continent], when we say that Covid-19 is an economic issue and we need to respond to it, to be able to recover and reset our economies, it is real.”

africa vaccines
Graphic: The Economist

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High-income countries reap benefits

As per data released by WHO, 5.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, of which 80% have been distributed in high- and upper-middle-income countries.

“High-income countries have now administered almost 100 doses for every 100 people. Meanwhile, low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.”

Back in June, WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti ,predicted nine out of 10 African countries would miss their vaccination goals.

This at a time when more than five million Covid-19 cases were reported in Africa and new cases increased by nearly 20% in South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

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