MADRID, 1 (EUROPA PRESS)
The Amref Salud Africa organization has launched a global campaign to “end the injustice” of the COVID-19 vaccine, under the title ‘#VacunaSolidaria’.
Faced with the travel restrictions imposed on southern Africa, the NGO calls for the “end of vaccine hoarding, the release of patents, the promotion of shared knowledge and the acceleration in the distribution of vaccines in Africa”.
Africa lags far behind the rest of the world in COVID-19 testing, vaccination and treatment. Almost two years after the pandemic and more than 10 months since the first doses of the vaccine were administered in high-income countries, African countries still do not have access to vaccines for a population of approximately 1.4 billion (17 per cent of the world population).
Meanwhile, they denounce that “high-income countries accumulate critical doses of vaccines and begin to administer booster doses to citizens who are already vaccinated.”
“Vaccine hoarding must stop… So that all people can have equitable access and protect the world. Let’s stop giving booster doses, can you believe that the total number of booster doses given equals the total number of doses given?” in Africa?” said the Executive Director of Amref Health Africa, Githinji Gitahi.
According to the Africa CDC, less than 7 per cent of Africans have been fully vaccinated, compared to more than 70 per cent of the population in the European Union. Furthermore, it is projected that by the end of 2021, high-income countries will have stockpiled around 1.2 billion doses of surplus vaccines, despite calls by international agencies to facilitate equitable access to vaccines and the distribution of resources to end the acute stage of the pandemic.
“In October 2021, only 5 of 54 African countries were projected to reach the World Health Organization (WHO) target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of their population by the end of the year. This means that it is likely that Africa will be the last holdout of the COVID-19 pandemic if urgent action is not taken to address the persistent vaccine inequity that has put us in such a vulnerable position,” said Dr Gitahi.
In this sense, they warn that if the current vaccination rate continues, it will take three years to achieve group immunity on the African continent.
“A time when the emergence of new variants threatens the progress made to date. Not only in Africa, but throughout the world. International action must focus on curbing vaccine hoarding by high-income countries, share vaccine patents and prioritize vaccination in Africa over booster doses. We advocate globally tackling a problem that is global. Otherwise, the pandemic will stay with us for many more Christmases,” they conclude.