Only 1% of the 1.3 billion vaccines injected around the world have been administered in Africa – and that comparative percentage has been declining in recent weeks. It is a stark figure that underlines just how serious a problem global vaccine inequity has become. But the answer for the developing world is not as simple as delivering more vaccines.
From Africa to Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean, the same issues have been replicated. On top of finding enough doses, there have been logistical difficulties with delivery, problems over healthcare infrastructure and, in some countries, public hesitancy towards vaccines.
Africa’s lack of vaccines – and the erratic supply of those that are eventually delivered – remains the No 1 challenge, however. Only 28 million doses have been delivered on the continent so far – that’s less than 2% of the continent’s population – at a time when some wealthier countries have vaccinated well in excess of half their populations.
One issue is that 40 African countries, as the World Health Organization recently pointed out, had been relying on the Covax facility, the scheme designed to deliver cheap doses to promote vaccine equality. Supplies were supposed to come from the Serum Institute of India but have now been diverted for domestic use in India.
The WHO announced on Thursday that Africa needed at least 20 million AstraZeneca doses in the next six weeks to give second shots to all those who had received a first dose. In addition, another 200 million doses of approved vaccines are needed to enable the continent to vaccinate 10% of its population by September.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said last week:
Africa needs vaccines now. Any pause in our vaccination campaigns will lead to lost lives and lost hope.
It’s too soon to tell if Africa is on the cusp of a third wave. However, we know that cases are rising, and the clock is ticking so we urgently appeal to countries that have vaccinated their high-risk groups to speed up the dose-sharing to fully protect the most vulnerable people.
Read more here:
Allies of Donald Trump took the unusual step of speaking out on Sunday in support of Joe Biden, regarding efforts to pinpoint the source of Covid-19 and find out if China knows more about the origins of the pandemic than it is letting on.
Biden said on Thursday he was expanding an investigation into the outbreak, following a departure from previous thinking by at least one US intelligence agency now leaning towards the theory that the virus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan.
Michael McCaul, a Republican congressman from Texas, and Matthew Pottinger, Trump’s former deputy national security adviser who persuaded him to start using the controversial term “Wuhan virus”, both welcomed the development.
Pottinger told NBC’s Meet the Press:
It’s absolutely essential to find out what the origin of this thing is, it’s essential for us to head off the next pandemic, it’s essential for us to better understand the variants of the current pandemic that are emerging.
Both of these hypotheses that President Biden spoke of are valid, it could have emerged from a laboratory, it could have emerged from nature. Neither is supported by concrete evidence but there’s a growing amount of circumstantial evidence supporting the idea that this may have leaked from a laboratory.
Read the full story here: