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World Health Organisation calls for accelerated coronavirus vaccination globally

The World Health Organisation(WHO) on Tuesday issued an urgent call for vaccine equity globally and in Africa in particular, stressing that the worst pandemic in the last hundred years will not end unless and until, there is genuine global cooperation on vaccine supply and access.

Pelican Brief

Penpushing reports that, Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and a group of global health leaders stated this  at a press conference which followed two days of meetings among the leaders, with Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer of CEPI joining the meetings as well.

The meeting  also reiterated the World Health Organisation (WHO’s) global vaccination target for 70% of the population of all countries to be vaccinated by mid-2022, noting that more than 5.7 billion doses have been administered globally, but only 2% of those have been administered in Africa.

Penpushing further reports that, the Director General was joined by Dr Seth Berkley, CEO Gavi, Strive Masiyima, AU Special Envoy for COVID- 19, Dr John Nkengasong, Africa CDC Director, Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank, Dr Vera Songwe, UN Under- Secretary- General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission For Africa and Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“More than 5.7 billion doses have been administered globally, but only 2% of those have been administered in Africa. This doesn’t only hurt the people of Africa, it hurts all of us’, Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

‘The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and changing, the longer the social and economic disruption will continue, and the higher the chances that more variants will emerge that render vaccines less effective”, he added

“Vaccine sharing is good but we shouldn’t have to be relying on vaccine sharing. Particularly when we can come to the table, put structures in place and say, we also want to buy.American taxpayers, European taxpayers, they financed some of this intellectual property and it should be for the common good. So, it is not wrong that we say there should be waivers, it was for the common good. So, we ask for this IP to be made available.It was a great miracle to have these vaccines, now let this miracle be available to all mankind.”  

Penpushing also reports that, Africa CDC Director, Dr John Nkengasong said, “We will not be able to achieve 60% of our population fully immunised if we do not fully explore and deploy the power of partnership, the power of cooperation, and the power of solidarity” … “We all have acknowledged now that vaccines are the only solution for us to get out of this pandemic collectively. That has to be done quickly.”

The United Nations(UN) Under-Secretary, General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Dr Vera Songwe in his own remarks ,noted that  the one month of locksdown in the continent cost loss of $29 billion of production

“For every one month of lockdowns in the continent cost us $29 billion of production that was lost. For [the African continent], when we say that COVID-19 is an economic issue and we need to respond to it, to be able to recover and reset our economies, it is real.

‘And for that we need financing and we need to see how we can bring together global financial structures to ensure that we can actually respond to this crisis. We know that scarcity means increased cost, and we cannot afford today as a continent that kind of scarcity.”

Penpushing reports that, Prof Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank, emphaised that African continent does not want to be at the bottom of  queue in regard to vaccines

“Africa did not want to once again be at the bottom of queue in regard to vaccines because it was well known to everybody that economy recovery meant bringing the virus under control.It is important that we do this for the simple reason that countries want us to make sure that we do not fail, and make it difficult for us to recover quickly.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Gavi, Dr Seth Berkley noted that, “today’s meeting is important, as it symbolizes the spirit of partnership between COVAX, the African Union and AVATT: Africa needs more doses and together we will get them.”

“We’re poised to embark on the busiest period of what is the largest and most complex vaccine rollout in history. We’ve demonstrated that COVAX can work at scale, but it’s really time for the world to get behind it.”

Penpushing further reports that, World Health Organisation(WHO) Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti in his own submission said, “the question is sometimes asked do African countries have the capacity to absorb the vaccines? The simple answer is yes. The continuous challenge is that global supplies are not being shared in ways that will get the world out of this pandemic.”

“Hundreds of WHO staff are on the ground, ready to support countries to expand vaccination sites and to manage the complexities of small deliveries of a variety of vaccines. What’s more, African countries have done this before – successfully implementing massive vaccination campaigns against polio, yellow fever and cholera.”

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