Covid-19 Jabs: Rich Nations Get Lion’s Share

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has sounded the alarm over the slow pace of vaccinations against Covid-19 and the unequal access to jabs between rich and poor countries.

The president of South Africa made his remarks during his address to the Global Covid-19 summit under the theme “ending the pandemic and building back better health security to prepare for the next”.

Ramaphosa said: “We have committed to vaccinating at least 70% of the world’s population by next year, but we are now at the end of September and have not reached the 10 per cent target we set ourselves in May.

“The gulf is widening between better-resourced nations who are buying up and even hoarding vaccines, and developing countries who are struggling.

“Of the around 6 billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, only 2 percent of these have been administered in Africa, a continent of more than 1,2 billion people. This is unjust and immoral.”

Earlier President Joe Biden promised an additional 500 million doses for middle-income and poor nations, bringing the US total donation of Covid-19 vaccines to more than 1,1 billion jabs.

“We welcome the commitment to dose donation and sharing,” said Ramaphosa.

“However, we reiterate our position that developing countries should be able to manufacture their own vaccines as well as to procure them directly.”

South Africa is part of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.

In March this year all AU member states signed an agreement through AVATT giving us access to 220 million doses of the J&J vaccine.

South Africa will also host the WHO’s first Covid-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub to serve the continent.

Other African countries are also building capacity for manufacturing, supported by the Partnership for Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa.

“This Summit must come up with a sustainable plan on how developing countries will be supported. Not only to meet targets around vaccination, oxygen, diagnostics, personal protective equipment but also for manufacturing,” said Ramaphosa.

“We must close the financing and supply gap for COVAX, AVATT and other mechanisms.

“The greatest lesson we have learned from this pandemic is that fortune favours the prepared.

“We support the establishment of a global health Financial Intermediary Fund for pandemic preparedness, as well as a Global Health Threats Council.

“Cooperation, collective action and above all consensus, is our greatest strength in the current crisis, and will continue to be so in the future.”