As the African continent struggles to acquire Covid-19 vaccine doses and kickstart inoculation campaigns, the South African president has pleaded with rich nations to stop stockpiling more than they need.
“We are concerned by vaccine nationalism. The rich countries in the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines from the developers and manufacturers of these vaccines,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday, during an address to the World Economic Forum.
“Some countries went beyond and acquired up to four times what their population needs. This is being done to the exclusion of other countries in the world,” said Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union.
The president went on to say that the Covid-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team had been only marginally successful in its attempts to secure vaccines for the continent because wealthier nations had availed themselves of all the available supply.
“There is just no need for a country with 40 million people to acquire 160 million doses when the world needs access to those vaccines,” he added.
Ramaphosa’s comments come amid increasing concern about vaccine inequality. Last week, the World Health Organization chair Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claimed “the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure” and the “prospects for equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines are at serious risk.”
Ghebreyesus blasted rich nations’ vaccine hoarding, noting: “Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic.”
Few countries in Africa have so far received Covid-19 vaccine shipments. They include Morocco, Mauritius, and the Seychelles. All three nations received the vaccine from India, with both Mauritius and the Seychelles receiving the vaccine as a gift from New Delhi.