African Union Calls for End to Vaccine Nationalism
Sep 16, 2021 06:43 PM
Participants attend the 33rd ordinary session of the assembly of heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, Feb. 9, 2020. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)
Rich countries should end vaccine nationalism that is to blame for a supply crunch in Africa and slowing down efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the continent, experts said at a webinar on accelerating COVID-19 vaccination in Africa on Wednesday.
Michel Sidibe, the African Union's special envoy for the African Medicines Agency, said that the rich North has a responsibility to stop hoarding vaccines that has been counterproductive to the pandemic fight. He stressed that vaccine equity is key to averting the emergence of new coronavirus strains, hastening recovery and strengthening the resilience of Africa's public health systems.
Speaking at the webinar convened by the Brookings Institution, Sidibe noted that Africa's battle against the pandemic has suffered headwinds amid vaccine nationalism.
Agnes Binagwaho, vice chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity and former Rwandese minister for Health, noted that delayed vaccination could lead to a 3 percent loss to Africa's GDP.
She faulted some rich nations that have explored the possibility of third booster shots, saying the move will only deny low-income countries in Africa the opportunity to immunize high-risk groups.
Aloysius Uche Ordu, director in the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings Institution, said there was an urgency to address vaccine nationalism and price hikes having constrained supply in Africa where new variants have derailed a return to normalcy besides exerting pressure on public health facilities.