Covid-19: African countries want to buy vaccines rather than waiting for donations, says AU

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
A health worker draws a Covid-19 vaccine.
A health worker draws a Covid-19 vaccine.
Emily Elconin/Getty Images
  • African countries want to buy Covid-19 vaccines, rather than waiting for donor-funded jabs.
  • The African Union has also urged manufacturing nations to lift export bans.
  • The AU feels it should not be relying solely on vaccine donations.


African countries want to buy Covid-19 vaccines, rather than keep waiting for donor-funded doses to arrive, the African Union said Tuesday, imploring producers to give the continent a fair shot at market access.

The AU also urged manufacturing nations to lift export bans so the continent can begin to address for itself the glaring inequity in access to coronavirus jabs, as wealthy nations hog available doses.

READ | Aspen's Gqeberha plant releases J&J vaccines

"Vaccine sharing is good. But we shouldn't have to be relying on vaccine sharing," Strive Masiyiwa, the AU's Covid-19 special envoy, told a press conference at the World Health Organisation in Geneva.

"We want to buy from those same manufacturers."

The major Covid-19 vaccine producers have a moral responsibility to ensure equitable access to end the pandemic, he said, but "those manufacturers know very well that they never gave us proper access".

Just nine vaccine doses have been administered per 100 people in Africa, according to an AFP calculation.

That figure stands at 118 doses per 100 people in the United States and Canada; 104 in Europe; 85 in Asia; 84 in Latin America and the Caribbean; 69 in Oceania and 54 in the Middle East.

African nations "have been left behind by the rest of the world", said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The UN health agency chief spelled out the danger of leaving Africa so poorly covered by vaccines.

"This doesn't only hurt the people of Africa, it hurts all of us," he said.

"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."

'Miracle'

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told the press conference that just under 3.5 percent of the eligible African population has been fully vaccinated.

The WHO wants 40 percent fully immunised in every country by the end of the year and 70% of the world's population by mid-2022.

It has called for countries to hold off administering extra booster shots until the end of December to allow more people to get a first dose instead.

The AU has set up the African Covid-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, or AVAT, to purchase jabs for member states in a scheme to run alongside the donor-funded global Covax facility.

Masiyiwa said Africa was also setting up its own manufacturing capabilities and called for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights on the vaccines, as a common good.

But the Zimbabwean telecoms mogul, who has been negotiating with vaccine suppliers, said lifting export restrictions would remove the most pressing issue preventing Africa from accessing more doses immediately.

He said: "It was a great miracle to have these vaccines. Now let this miracle be available to all mankind."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Did you register to vote in the upcoming elections?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes
60% - 1059 votes
No
40% - 700 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.74
+0.7%
Rand - Pound
20.12
+0.8%
Rand - Euro
17.30
+0.6%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.69
+0.4%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+1.0%
Gold
1,776.31
+0.1%
Silver
22.89
+1.8%
Palladium
2,052.50
+7.5%
Platinum
1,003.50
+4.9%
Brent Crude
74.36
+0.6%
Top 40
57,032
+1.7%
All Share
63,419
+1.7%
Resource 10
57,013
+2.1%
Industrial 25
81,722
+1.2%
Financial 15
14,169
+2.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE