By Ebi Kesiena
The African Union’s health watchdog has decried the attitude of world leaders of falling short in their pledge to share coronavirus vaccines with poorer nations, noting that their failure has the tendency of making the disease endemic.
Head of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC, John Nkengasong noted this on Thursday, urging that world leaders must not continue to politicise the situation by making statements that they do not follow through with firm commitments.
According to Nkengasong, pledges do not put vaccines into peoples’ arms.
Lamenting on the alarming rate of rising cases across the continent, Nkengasong explained that more than 40 countries are experiencing a third wave of infection and six are grappling with their fourth.
He insisted that while normal life was returning to many wealthy nations, poor nations lack access to jabs and the doses had yet to materialise.
‘‘The Group of Seven industrialised powers pledged in June to provide a billion Covid vaccines with developing nations, up from 130 million promised in February. The G7 plan also included commitments to avert future pandemics slashing time taken to develop and licence vaccines to under 100 days, reinforcing global surveillance and strengthening the WHO.
“We have not seen a billion vaccines, we are not as a continent very keen in any definition of vaccine diplomacy that would mean people make statements in the media that are not backed with reality,” he stated.
He however noted that the war against the pandemic will not be won quickly if everyone is not vaccinated with speed.
“Otherwise we should brace ourself to live with this virus as an endemic disease going forward,” he added.
Recall that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently urged rich nations to give priority to getting first jabs for health workers and vulnerable populations in poorer nations over supplying boosters to their own citizens.
It is estimated Africa will need 1.5 billion vaccine doses to immunise 60 percent of its inhabitants and achieve some level of herd immunity.
Africa is facing a Covid-19 resurgence as it lags in the global vaccination drive, with just 3.18 percent of its 1.3-billion population fully inoculated.