Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
17 Aug 2021
1:36 pm

Vaccine exploitation: Europe lockdown lifted, thanks to jabs from Africa

Cheryl Kahla

The gap between rich and poor is wide and showing no signs of shrinking just yet.

Picture: AFP/Patrick T. Fallon

In an unprecedented feat, researchers and scientists rose to the challenge and developed Covid-19 vaccines within less than 12 months of the pandemic. Not surprisingly, Africa was left behind.

While the challenge is now to ensure people around the world receive their jabs, it appears as though not all vaccine recipients are considered equal.

Vaccine inequity

One just has to look at vaccine trackers to notice the imbalance. As of 17 August, approximately 31.7% of the world’s population received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 23.7% are fully vaccinated.

Out of those, only 1.3% of the world’s lowest-income countries have received their first dose. In South Africa alone, 7.08% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 5.54% are partially vaccinated – a total of 12.62%.

To date, more than 4.72 billion vaccine doses have been administered, or roughly 61 doses per every 100 people. In South Africa, that figure drops to 16 out of every 100.

Data shared by Our World In Data show that countries in Central and North Africa have it even worse:

  • Congo: 0.1 out of 100 people
  • Tanzania: 0.18 out of 100 people
  • Chad: 2.5 out of 100 people
  • South Sudan 0.51 out of 100 people
  • Nigeria: 1.92 out of 100 people
  • Central Africa Republic: 1.98 out of 100 people
  • Kenya: 2.25 out of 100 people
  • Uganda: 2.6 out of 100 people
  • Zambia: 2.9 out of 100 people
  • Malawi: 3.9 out of 100 people

As reported by The Guardian’s Gordon Brown, “about 10 million single-shot J&J [Johnson & Johnson] vaccines filled and finished at the Aspen factory in South Africa will be exported to Europe”.

This while Africa is in the midst of its deadliest Covid-19 wave. And while Africa is battling the pandemic still, Britain eased out of its restrictions thanks to the country’s “successful vaccine rollout”.

Instead of isolating, vaccinated people in England who come into contact with a possible Covid case will be advised to get a free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

Must be nice.

9 out of 10 African countries

Back in June, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over the fact that nine out of 10 African countries would miss their vaccination goals.

At the time, more than five million Covid-19 cases were reported in Africa and new cases increased by nearly 20% – more than 88,000 cases – specifically in South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said many of the continent’s most vulnerable people “remain dangerously exposed to Covid-19”.

“Vaccines have been proven to prevent cases and deaths, so countries that can, must urgently share Covid-19 vaccines; it’s ‘do or die’ on dose sharing for Africa.”

Yet despite that – and the efforts from the Covax facility to ensure equal distribution of vaccines – the world in general continues to exploit Africa.

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