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TNC…where curious minds can access wholesome news commentary


Africa: AU Rallies Support for Equitable Access to Covid-19 Vaccines

Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the World Trade Organization to waiver specific Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) obligations related to the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 for a defined period.

Together with India, South Africa has proposed a TRIPS waiver in response to the pandemic.

“We need more countries to support this initiative. This would enable countries in Africa and elsewhere to access active pharmaceutical ingredients and benefit from technology transfer, including the know-how to manufacture vaccines in Africa at a cheaper cost,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the President addressed a webinar on the Africa COVID-19 Vaccine Financing and Development Strategy, which was attended by Ministers of Health and Ministers of Finance of the AU Member States as well as experts, private sector leaders, and civil society representatives.

“The task before us is to step up global solidarity to ensure equitable access to the vaccines. All countries must get vaccines and must get them speedily.

“It is vital to the global containment of COVID-19 that vaccination takes place in all countries and among all populations. No part of the world will be safe from COVID until all parts of the world are safe,” the President said.

He noted challenges of accessing vaccines for the Global South, particularly for Africa.

“The developed North, which has substantial financial resources, has purchased the largest stocks, while we in Africa are struggling to get our fair share. The painful irony is that some of the clinical trials for these vaccines were carried out in Africa.

“In other cases, vaccines are packaged right here on the continent, yet we struggle to access them for our populations,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said vaccine prices are high, and many countries may not afford to vaccinate enough of their population to achieve herd immunity.

Effort to secure COVID-19 vaccine

Earlier this month, the President convened a meeting of the African Union Bureau to discuss the work undertaken by the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.

“It is estimated that Africa will only be able to access around 20% of vaccines needed through the COVAX facility. We therefore found it necessary to complement this facility to ensure health workers are vaccinated soonest and countries reach herd immunity faster.