World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and global health leaders on Tuesday issued an urgent call for vaccine equity worldwide and in Africa in particular.
In a statement, the leaders said the Covid-19 pandemic, the worst in the last hundred years, would not end unless and until there was genuine global cooperation on vaccine supply and access.
WHO’s global vaccination target for 70% of the population to be vaccinated by mid- 2022 seems unattainable if the world continues at the current pace.
More than 5.7 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered globally, but only two percent of those have been given in Africa.
Tedros said this would ultimately not only hurt the people of Africa, but the entire world.
“The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and changing, the longer the social and economic disruption will continue, and the higher the chances that more variants will emerge that render vaccines less effective,” said the WHO head.
The director of the Africa Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Dr John Nkengasong said the continent would not be able to achieve 60% of its population being fully immunised if leaders did not fully explore and deploy the power of partnership, cooperation, and solidarity.
“We all have acknowledged now that vaccines are the only solution for us to get out of this pandemic collectively. That has to be done quickly,” Nkengasong added.
African countries do have the capacity to absorb the vaccines, WHO regional director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said in answer to a question that is often asked.
“The continuous challenge is that global supplies are not being shared in ways that will get the world out of this pandemic,” she said, adding that hundreds of WHO staff were on the ground, ready to support countries in expanding vaccination sites and manage the complexities of small deliveries of a variety of vaccines.