“With regard to the delivery of vaccines, Africa saw disproportionate delays, in comparison to the rest of the world, not only for what we ordered, but also those pledged under the Covax facility.”
“To date, out of about 8.5 billion doses delivered around the globe, Africa has received only 264 million doses of the number, which means that only 7 per cent of Africans have been vaccinated compared to 70 percent of people around the world”.
These were the words of the African Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, as he addressed a session of the Group of Seven most Industrialised countries (G7).
This was the meeting of Foreign and Development Ministers on Vaccines and Global Health Security which was hosted by the UK government on December 12, 2021.
Commissioner Faki was invited to deliver a speech at the Summit by the G7 grouping in solidarity.
He bemoaned the unilateral travel ban that was imposed on Southern Africa when South African scientists announced the discovery of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, a decision he described as grossly ‘unfair’.
“Let me be clear, when the global pandemic started, Africa asked for one thing only – to have the same access to vaccines at the same prices when they became available. Two years later we witnessed that these assurances of global solidarity were ignored,” complained Faki.
Africa has been at the receiving end of unfulfilled promises by the Global North which regards Africans as lesser humans who do not deserve a place at the table but remain beggars walking on the street of Gold.
Africa is one of the richest continents in the world which remains as the bastion of natural resources and raw materials for industrialised nations.
The uneven distribution of vaccines through hoarding of life-saving drugs, exposes the hypocrisy inherent in the developed world.
In essence, the vaccine producing countries have sentenced Africa to death through withholding them from Africa.
One thing that was apparent from Mr Faki’s presentation is Africa’s ill-preparedness for future pandemics as the continent still lacks the necessary manufacturing capacity for essential life saving drugs including Covid-19 vaccines.
It is sad that access to life-saving vaccines has been politicised by big producer countries who now use vaccines as a control tool which can be deployed against those countries that may be deemed deviant.
South Africa and India have previously pleaded with vaccine producing countries at the World Trade Organisation for a waiver on intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines, but this has repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.
It is sad that Covid-19 vaccines are being used as a source of power and influence.
Vaccines are being deployed to fight political and trade wars that would rather be better off fought otherwise when everyone is safe from the virus and in good health.
Africa was sold a dummy when a promise was made to roll out a massive vaccination programme through the Western funded Covax initiative. Of course this never saw light of day as the donor countries quickly developed cold feet over the facility.
Zimbabwe realised the folly of waiting for donors’ benevolence especially when it came to the well being of its citizens.
The country then refused to sign up to the facility which could have restricted the country’s choices of sources of vaccines.
Yet to date the country would still have waited for vaccines that may never come.
Zimbabwe engaged in a massive fundraising initiative which saw it securing own fully paid vaccines from friendly sources in China, Russia and India.
To date nearly four million eligible citizens have been vaccinated against the virus, a feat that very few countries in the region can replicate.
It can be argued that the Covax facility was deliberately designed to send Africans to sleep hoping that vaccines will be delivered to their doorstep.
The facility, was then fashioned as a tool to decide on who should and who should not live by picking favoured countries for preferential vaccination.
Indeed the hypocrisy stinks to high heavens.
With the discovery of new more lethal variants of the pandemic such as Delta and recently Omicron, it is more urgent now that the issue of vaccine equity is addressed. Africa must wake up and invest heavily in Research and Development.