AFRICA – A new analysis has shown that G20 countries have received 15 times more COVID-19 vaccine doses per capita than countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The analysis, conducted by science analytics company Airfinity, exposes the severity of vaccine inequity between high-income and low-income countries, especially in Africa.
“Vaccine inequity is not just holding the poorest countries back, it is holding the world back,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, who also called on leaders to set priorities that promote equity.
Wealthy countries with more supplies than they need have generously pledged to donate these doses to low- and middle-income countries via COVAX but these promised doses are moving too slowly. Of the 1.3 billion additional doses countries have pledged to donate, only 356 million doses have been provided to COVAX.
African countries in particular have largely been left without access to COVID-19 vaccines. Less than 5 per cent of the African population are fully vaccinated, leaving many countries at high-risk of further outbreaks.
As leaders prepare to meet for the G20 Summit in Rome this weekend, 48 UNICEF Africa ambassadors and supporters from across the continent have united in an open letter. They are calling for leaders to honor their promises to urgently deliver doses, writing that “the stakes could not be higher.”
“As the pandemic causes a spike in child malnutrition, resources are diverted from life-saving health services and childhood immunization. Children already orphaned risk losing grandparents. Disaster looms for sub-Saharan African families, four out of five of whom rely on the informal sector for their daily bread. Poverty threatens children’s return to school, protection from violence and child marriage,” the letter reads.
According to WHO, some 80,000 to 180,000 healthcare workers globally are estimated to have died from COVID-19 between January 2020 and May 2021.
Vaccine Certificates row
This study comes at a time the African Union Commission is lobbying European Union member countries against a policy of not accepting COVID-19 vaccine certificates from the continent.
Speaking at the opening of a meeting of foreign affairs ministers of the European Union and the African Union in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the vice-chairperson of the African Union Commission indicated such a policy could affect vaccination campaigns.
“To support these vaccination efforts the recognition by our European counterparts of vaccines and vaccination certificates issued by member states authorities in conformity with Africa CDC recommendations is pertinent,” the official said.
Last month, the UK announced a policy of not accepting Covid-19 vaccine certificates from the continent which authorities say could increase vaccine hesitancy.
England announced its initial list of countries from which it recognizes vaccines, with none of them in Africa.
About 4.5 percent of the African population is fully vaccinated, well below the average of about 55 percent to 66 percent levels in Europe.