Vaccination is widely recognised around the world as the most effective tool in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. However, equitable access to the life saving jabs is yet to be achieved.
Our World Data revealed that 54.2% of the world's population has received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine. In lower income countries only 5.8% of people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations .
In May 2021 Humanitarian Organisation UNICEF called on stakeholders to ensure that all countries have equitable access to vaccines. They released a press statement titled ‘No-one is safe until everyone is safe – why we need a global response to COVID-19’ in which they argued that equitable access to vaccines is a human imperative.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa echoed these sentiments and said that vaccine inequality cannot be allowed to continue. He was speaking after travel was banned from a number of Southern African countries after the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant called Omicron.
Ramaphosa argued that the likelihood of new variants of the virus emerging will continue if countries don't have equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. He said, “Until everyone is vaccinated, everyone will be at risk. Until everyone is vaccinated, we should expect that more variants will emerge”.
He called on richer countries to support the efforts of developing economies to access and to manufacture enough vaccine doses for their people.
Dr Ayoade Alakija co-chair of the African Union's Covid-19 Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance says that the recent travel bans demonstrate that countries are being led by politics and not by science. She says that African countries need to change the narrative around the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the continent as well as countering the narrative that people don't want vaccines.
Alakija says she is calling on African leaders to speak up against vaccine aparthied. She said, “enough is enough and we as Africans need to begin to raise our voice collectively and tell the world that we also have a voice and we also deserve to live and to live lives of quality and not die”.
Alakija said she’s pleased that President Ramaphosa will travel to Nigeria and meet with President Muhammadu Buhari. She believes that the weight of the two African powerhouses could send a strong message to foreign policy makers that Africa should not be treated unfairly.
Ramaphosa will be traveling to a number of West African states to promote trade and investment on the continent. The chair of the African Union will visit Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.