According to the African Development Bank, African countries have been “shortchanged” with respect to their access to COVID vaccines.
Covid Vaccines for Africa
“Africa [has] for sure been shortchanged, if I can use that term, regarding access to vaccines globally,” Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank told CNBC.
Saving lives is “all about timing” yet “the vaccines are not getting here in time, in the right quantity and the right price, Adesina further noted.
The continent has only 2.48% of its population fully vaccinated as of August 23 compared to other continents. This is based on the bank’s “Our World in Data,” a research and data online publication focused on socio-economic problems across the world such as poverty, health, climate change, war, etc.
According to the bank’s report, in comparison, COVID vaccination rates stand at 25.31% in Asia and 27.1% in South America, while Europe and North America’s vaccination rates are both above 40%.
The need for Africa to be self-reliant
The COVID vaccine disparity has warranted the need for the continent to be self-reliant by developing and supplying Covid vaccines for Africa. Adesina couldn’t have put it any better when he said “If there’s any lesson … that we have learned from this, it is that Africa should not depend on the rest of the world for supplying it with critical vaccines, and also therapeutics.”
Through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) established by the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, set up in November 2020 under the African Union chairmanship of HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, the African Union has procured 400 million COVID vaccines for delivery over the next year or so.
This according to Adesina is still not enough for Africa’s population of more than 1 billion people. Africa “should not be dependent on others, it should be self-sufficient,” Adesina said.
Ghana is one of the few countries on the continent with plans to position itself in the production of COVID vaccines via the establishment of the National Vaccine Institute, which was announced by President Akufo Addo on July 25.
ADB’s role in ensuring Africa COVID vaccine self-sufficiency
Speaking to offer a pragmatic solution, Adesina noted that the African Development Bank plans to invest in primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare infrastructure on the continent. The bank also plans to invest US$3 billion toward the pharmaceutical sector in order for the continent to manufacture and distribute vaccines for itself.