Welcome to this week’s updates on key happenings in African and elsewhere that have an impact on African trade as well as its relationships with the rest of the world. This piece is dedicated to issues and developments around Covid-19 Vaccines.
Covid-19, and Vaccines Availability
There was a lot of hope concerning access to vaccines with the announcement by Johnson and Johnson that South African’s Aspen Pharmacare. However it has since emerged that the company indeed intends to export millions of vaccines doses to Europe under a contract that the company had negotiated earlier. As expected this have drawn criticism especially because African countries are currently having acute vaccines shortages with some force to reroute their budgets towards vaccines acquisition. However this should be a wake up call for the Africa’s CDC and indeed African governments who have been hoping to ramp up vaccines’ supplies. The truth is vaccines have complex contracting arrangements and unless the stakeholders address the issues related to contracting, this situation is likely to be repeated, with African countries having to depend on the donations from the richer countries. UK’ former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has laments on this that “The gap between rich and poor is now so wide that, while high-income countries have administered almost 100 doses for every 100 citizens, low-income countries have administered only 1.5 doses per 100.” But amid all these, what has been the role of the African Union in ensuring the resources available on the continent are used for the benefit of the African populations? Trade policy and statements would not mean much if for example there are not effective Private Public Partnerships that can deliver for the people. At the moment this is lacking at least as regards vaccine production in Africa, and situations such as this are likely to be witnessed again in future. The bigger question is why are richer countries increasingly negotiation preferential agreements whose effect is to lock poorer countries from accessing the vaccines they desperately need?
The latest analysis of Covid-19 jab in Africa by Development Reimagined, shows that African countries have been able to secure just 121 million vaccine doses in order to minimize the effects of COVID-19. Of these, 72% have already been jabbed into arms, equating to just 1.8% of all vaccines administered globally – a far cry from the 1.3 billion doses ordered by African governments and the African Union to date, which would have been sufficient to protect 52% of the entire population.
The above statistics and the controversial contracting arrangements should hopefully lead to some more strategic policy decisions by the African Union, and the Africa CDC.
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