• Mar 16, 2021 . 2 min Read
  • COVID-19: ADB President calls for vaccine justice

COVID-19: ADB President calls for vaccine justice
Betty Amamukirori
Journalist @New Vision

COVID-19 | VACCINE | ADESINA

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President African Development Bank (ADB), has called for COVID-19 vaccine justice for Africa. 

“We need global solidarity and vaccine justice for Africa,” he said on Friday (March 12, 2021), last week, during the launch of the Bank’s African Economic Outlook 2021 report. 

He decried the lack of Covid-19 vaccines reaching Africa and underlined the stark disparities between vaccine acquisitions by several rich countries that have acquired sufficient vaccines for their populations twice over, and African countries, that remain primarily dependent on the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility for the little quantities of vaccines acquired so far. 

“So far, 14.6 million vaccines have been delivered in Africa, but many people still cannot get shots in their arms. That is only 1% of what we need. We are way off the mark in terms of getting to 60% of herd immunity, and sadly, I do not see that happening for another year or two at this rate— not unless things change,” he said. 

He noted that there is need to improve Africa’s access to vaccines, and at affordable prices. 

“COVAX is doing a great job but still, we need more. We need them in adequate quantity. We need them quickly and we need them at an affordable price,” he said. 

He added that “as long as Africans remain unvaccinated; the world will go right back to square one.” 

Adesina said no amount of ‘vaccine passports’ being advocated for by some developed countries could change that fact. 

“Africa needs to develop its pharmaceutical industry and begin manufacturing. The African Development Bank is going to support African countries to do this,” he revealed. 

Professor Joseph Stiglitz, the recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences-for Africa, during a panel discussion, agreed that the slow pace of acquiring vaccines and arresting the pandemic will make stemming extreme poverty and negative economic growth difficult. 

Africa’s economy is expected to grow by 3.1% in 2021. However, 39 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty this year because of the pandemic unless the international community takes action. 

Stiglitz called for the suspension of the intellectual property rights related to Covid-19 vaccines, noting that if access to the intellectual property rights were more extensive, developing economies can produce a lot more vaccines. 

He added that it was in the self-interest of advanced countries to make sure that everybody has access to the vaccine and other related medicines. 

“The longer the disease festers in any part of the world, it can mutate and one of the things we know is that those mutations are not going to respect borders. The Covid-19 virus doesn’t carry a passport,” he noted. 

Other notable African voices that have called for speeding up vaccine delivery to Africa are those of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong. 

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