Rich countries over-order COVID vaccines leaving the poorer countries without

Does it make sense to wipe out coronavirus in Europe while it surges in Africa?

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

If coronavirus spreads here, ultimately it spreads everywhere...
If coronavirus spreads here, ultimately it spreads everywhere...

According to a report from the “People’s Vaccine Alliance,” rich countries have already put in orders for enough coronavirus vaccine doses to vaccinate their entire populations three times over on average – leaving many poorer countries out in the cold.

Even in the Western world, vaccine doses are unlikely to arrive in sufficient quantity for the first months of 2021. Director of Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention John Nkengasong stated on Thursday that in Africa, many countries might have to wait until the second half of 2021 before even the first doses begin to arrive. He is referring to the disparity as a “moral issue” and is requesting that the United Nations call a special session to discuss it and find ways to avoid “this North-South distrust in respect to vaccines.”

The issue is especially pertinent now with a new surge in the number of cases being reported on the African continent, home to almost 1.5 billion people with over 2.3 million confirmed coronavirus diagnoses.

According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, COVAX, the multinational program designed to ensure that poorer countries also have access to vaccines, will not receive nearly enough doses for Africa to achieve herd immunity – estimated at 60% of the population. They claim that as many as 90% of the population in around 67 poorer countries around the world will not have access to a vaccine at all, and have urged countries that have over-ordered to donate their surplus.

“We need to show global cooperation, global solidarity,” Nkengasong said. “The time to translate those powerful words into action is now.” He also noted that in a pandemic, a global approach is vital in order to overcome disease, making it in every country's interest to see that vaccines are distributed equitably.

In a statement, Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said: “Rich countries have clear human rights obligations not only to refrain from actions that could harm access to vaccines elsewhere but also to cooperate and provide assistance to countries that need it.”

According to Oxfam, Canada has ordered enough doses to vaccinate its population five times over, while South Korea, another leading world economy, has ordered sufficient doses to vaccinate 88 percent of its population of more than 50 million people.