African countries feel less privileged as other countries strive to get the coronavirus vaccine.
Globally, the covid-19 vaccine is being anticipated to be market ready.
The World Health Organization reports 191 coronavirus vaccine projects underway of which forty are in clinical experiment and are being tested on humans.
But developed and affluent are striving to acquire more than enough vaccines for themselves once they are licensed and authorized.
According to the science journal Nature, countries like US, Great Britain and Japan, as well as the European Union which signed a deal as a block, have already pre-ordered 2 billion doses of at least six vaccines in development.
South African epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim, says that this action is ungraspable.
“It is disturbing that some countries have fallen victim to vaccine nationalism,” Karim told DW. “They have the false assumption that security is possible for some countries while the virus continues to spread in poorer countries that cannot buy vaccines. It is simply wrong to think that you can be safe when others are not.”
Karim’s explained “It is in the best interest of the whole world to distribute vaccines in a fair way to as many people as possible.”
However, an international progam called COVAX is bent on guaranteeing fair allotment of a vaccine set up by WHO, in collaboration with the Gavi, a vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
WHO also depends on the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) with which research outcomes and intellectual property such as vaccine formulations are also distributed.
The COVAX program intends to prevent a repeat of an occurrence in 2009 and 2010 when African countries were provided with a swine fever vaccine a year after the outbreak because a small group of affluent countries had acquired the stocks.
“We will never have enough [coronavirus] vaccines if we assume that we need two doses for every person worldwide,” says Aurelia Nguyen, Gavi Director of Vaccines and Sustainability.
There will be no return to normalcy if there is no fair access to vaccines for all countries, Nguyen stated in an interview with DW.
“We want to secure 2 billion doses of vaccine by the end of 2021. That would be enough to vaccinate the most vulnerable people such as the elderly, frail persons, nurses, and medical staff in every country.”
The project does not need money alone but solidarity. Nevertheless, Nguyen is optimistic that this can be attained “because, through our program, we can pool the purchasing power of a large group of countries and be stronger together,” she said.
“In socially and economically difficult times, we have governments from every continent that are participating in our plan.”
She announced thar this took Gavi even more efforts to deliver life-saving vaccines to low income countries. “We can now sign four more contracts with development partners and manufacturing companies,” Nguyen said.
“All countries should receive the same vaccines at the same time,” Nguyen stressed.
The South African expert Karim however feels that Africa has got to look more closely at locally developing a vaccine against the coronavirus. “South Africa has currently not found a vaccine, I am disappointed about that,” says Karim.
Karim announces that four companies in Africa are competent enough to either develop or package a product that can be made accessible in abundance on the continent.
“The cost of implementing targeted vaccination campaigns for specific professional or age groups will be high,” Karim said.