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COVID-19 VACCINE: Why all Countries should Support COVAX

Photo by: afro.who.int

Global Health leaders have warned against “Vaccine Nationalism” in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccine Nationalism is a term that implies that the richest nations have access to COVID-19 vaccines, while low- and middle-income countries struggle to access supplies.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Dr. Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros said the global response against the pandemic must be collective.

“While there is a wish amongst leaders to protect their own people first, the response to this pandemic has to be collective,” said the World Health Organisation Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom in a recent media briefing.

“Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest,” he added.

In August 2020, Dr. Tedros said he had written to WHO Member states urging them to join the join the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility, a mechanism aimed at guaranteeing equal access for all people in all countries, irrespective of their status.

The COVAX Facility is operated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and WHO, alongside multinational and developing country vaccine manufacturers.

The Executive Director of the African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), Prof. Francis Omaswa has also written a compelling blog on the global scramble for COVID-19 Vaccine (available on www.achest.org)

“While we appeal to the global community for solidarity, empathy and humanity, we need to appreciate that these infectious disease crises are going to increase in frequency. We must call upon African countries to take note; mount an effective response now and prepare for the future pandemics by developing internal capacity to develop, manufacture and distribute vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics within the continent in partnership with the rest of the world. Africa should join COVAX not just as a beneficiary but as a contributor of the best science and financial resources,” writes Prof. Omaswa

WHO says developing a vaccine against COVID-19 is the most pressing challenge of our time – and nobody wins the race until everyone wins.

The global pandemic has already caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and disrupted the lives of billions more. As well as reducing the tragic loss of life and helping to get the pandemic under control, it is predicted that introduction of a vaccine will prevent the loss of US$ 375 billion to the global economy every month. Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

The UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima also recently said: “We must have a Peoples Vaccine, not a profit vaccine. Unless urgent action is taken by governments and the pharmaceutical industry to make sure enough doses are produced, COVID-19 will continue to lay existing inequalities bare. Pharmaceutical corporations and research institutions working on COVID-19 vaccines must share the science, technological know-how, and intellectual property related to the vaccines to maximize production by other quality producers.” 

For details, read

  1. The Global Scramble for COVID-19 https://achest.org/index.php?option=com_zoo&task=item&item_id=322&Itemid=481
  2.   Debate on the report “COVID-19 vaccines: ethical, legal and practical considerations”   https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/debate-on-the-report-covid-19-vaccines-ethical-legal-and-practical-considerations
  3.   “We must have a people vaccine not a profit vaccine https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2020/december/20201209_we-must-have-a-peoples-vaccine

Compiled by Carol Natukunda, Communications Specialist, African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST)

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