African Union envoy accuses rich countries,keeping Africa devoid of Covid-19 vaccines

African Union envoy accuses rich countries of ‘deliberately’ keeping Africa devoid of Covid-19 vaccines

The African Union special envoy to African vaccine acquisition task team has accused richest countries of deliberately keeping Africa devoid of Covid-19 vaccines and failing to provide the promised vaccines under WHO’s (World Health Organization) vaccine initiative, COVAX. 

The special envoy, Strive Masiyiwa said that the COVAX scheme by WHO failed to keep up with its promise of securing 700 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and delivering them for use by Africa by December 2021. The envoy has blamed WHO for allowing world’s richest countries to cut their way ahead to acquire control of vaccine production by leading manufacturers and keeping the bulk vaccine doses for themselves, many times in excess. This is while the poorer and developing countries are struggling with rampant surge of cases and death toll.  

During a discussion of a panel hosted by CNBC, Masiyiwa said on Wednesday, “It’s not a question of if this was a moral failure, it was deliberate. Those with the resources pushed their way to the front of the queue and took control of their production assets.” 

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“Imagine we are in a village and there is drought and there will not be enough bread and the richest guys grabs the baker and they take control of the production of bread and we all have to go to those [rich] guys to ask for a loaf of bread,” he added. 

Masiyiwa said that if an inquiry is set up on vaccine distribution, COVAX initiative by WHO would be found liable. He said that COVAX initiative failed to stand by its aim – of providing poor countries with free vaccines against Covid-19. “We were led down the garden path … We got to December believing that the whole world was coming together to purchase vaccines, not knowing that we had been corralled into a little corner while others ran off and secured the supplies.”

UK has managed to get 47% of its population fully vaccinated, while USA has vaccinated 45% of people. But in strike contrast, less than 1% of African population have been vaccinated completely. The continent has administered around 40 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to a population of 1.3 billion people.