Coronary vaccines has gone exactly as predicted: rich countries have bought the shelves empty and reserved most of the products for the very future. At the same time, the purchase of vaccines in African countries has only just begun.
The most advanced is South Africa, where a potentially more contagious variant of the coronavirus is spreading. One million doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine arrived in India last Monday, and an additional 500,000 doses have been promised, US media reports CNN.
South Africa has tried to procure as many vaccines as it can, but supply is limited. The vaccines that are still available are expensive. Due to high demand, South Africa has had to pay twice the price of its vaccines, says Reuters.
“There is global demand for the vaccine during the first quarter. We do not know of a cheaper option that would be immediately available, ”says the Director of Communications at the South African Ministry of Health Popo Maja To CNN.
South Africa according to health authorities, vaccination of health care personnel is scheduled to begin this month. However, problems are already in sight, as the Astra Zeneca vaccine does not appear to protect against a mild disease caused by a viral variant of South Africa, says Financial Times.
South Africa has also reserved a total of 20 million doses of Pfizer and Bointech vaccines, but these are not yet available.
Other African countries, through the African Union, have agreed on a total of 270 million doses of vaccine, but that amount is a fraction of what is needed and rising prices are slowing the pace of purchases, the WHO warns.
According to the WHO, many African countries will not be able to start vaccination in months, and by the end of this year, less than a third of the continent’s population will probably have time to be vaccinated.
Advanced Western countries should be concerned about the vaccination situation in Africa, not only for solidarity but also for selfish reasons. Hard-built herd shelter will not be useful in Europe if the neighboring continent becomes a factory of new forms of virus.
Adviser to the South African Government, Professor Salim Abdool Karim warn BBCin an interview, that we are now entering a morally completely unsustainable situation where leading countries such as Britain are starting to vaccinate young and healthy people, even though not even doctors have been vaccinated in Africa.
It doesn’t make sense, he says, because the virus just bites in unvaccinated areas and attacks the re-vaccinated, transformed.
“Some countries have a false belief that if they vaccinate their own citizens, they are safe. That’s not true, ”Karim tells the BBC.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor Complained during the African Union summit that started this weekend that the rich northern countries are buying up stocks of vaccines while Africa is struggling to get even its share of them, says the Finnish news agency STT.
“We’re queuing to death,” Pandor said.
In most So far, there are few coronary infections in African countries. In Africa, only about four per cent of the world’s coronary infections and deaths have been recorded, slightly less than in Britain, the STT says.
However, the trend is worrying: the number of cases is growing rapidly, especially in southern Africa. The death toll has risen 40 percent across the continent in January alone, shows Johns Hopkins University data.
The South African transformation has already been observed in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, the Comoros and Zambia, as well as in 20 countries outside Africa. Current vaccines may be less effective at converting than other forms of the virus, as was already the case with Astra Zeneca.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has made every effort to get an emergency message through the harms of vaccinationalism. However, when rich countries have had time to complete the first batches of vaccines, the WHO is asking them to give even the remaining vaccines to the joint vaccination program COVAX for distribution to those most in need.
To alleviate the situation of poor countries, South Africa, together with India, has pushed in the World Trade Organization for a proposal in the WTO that would invalidate patents on coronary vaccines for the duration of the pandemic.
Read more: Vaccine production could be accelerated by infringing patent protection, but pharmaceutical companies are opposed – “Whose interest weighs on this?” asks the professor
Continents different rates of vaccination can have a devastating effect on the African economy, says a senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute Liisa Laakso In an interview with STT.
“If this kind of vaccinationalism continues, then it means that it will not be possible to return to normal relations with Africa for a long time to come,” Laakso ponders.
Laakso also emphasizes that the virus can become more dangerous if it stays in the crowded continent without restriction.
The researcher predicts that if vaccines do not come from the West, then China will rush. Already in the spring, the country diligently supplied respirators to various African countries, among other things, and has promised to be a priority in vaccination deliveries as well.
“If the Chinese get their production capacity so big that there is enough vaccine, then it is a good seam for China to increase its influence with soft diplomacy,” Laakso predicts to STT.