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.

Should you have any trade related subjects you feel this blog can cover, please get in touch via songianam@gmail.com

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