The G7 countries announced last weekend before giving one billion vaccines to poorer countries at the end of 2022. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was also at the G7 summit, politely adopted the gift. But he knows: a billion pricks are many, but by far not enough to protect the population in developing countries from the coronavirus.
A critical sound came from international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO). It suggests that about 11 billion doses around the world are needed to control the pandemic, deliveries need to be done quickly and a clear timeline.
So how now after the G7? Covax, the World Health Organisation vaccination aid programme aimed at low- and middle-income countries, continues to recruit donations, including from China and Russia. The lowest rate of vaccination is on the African continent, where only 2 percent of people were vaccinated.
Meanwhile, African countries are trying to get more vaccines on their own. Because Covax has failed, says Ayoade Alakija, Nigerian co-chairman of the African Union vaccination group, on BBC radio. And not just because it doesnt have enough vaccines. According to her, the program had a “colonial approach” from the beginning, with Africans not being asked for anything. “We were told that Covax would be enough. Stay where you are and well take care of you.”
At the G7 Summit, South African President Ramaphosa, who is currently also President of the African Union, once again called for the temporary removal of vaccine patents so that countries can start producing them themselves. He didnt get hands on each other for that. He will now continue lobbying in the World Trade Organization.
Kenya: million pricks, 52 million inhabitants
One of many countries with large deficits is Kenya. Over 1.1 million shots have been put there so far. 128,744 people received two injections and have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. That on a population of more than 52 million.
Kanyenje Gakombe is a hospital director in the capital Nairobi and doesnt even have all his doctors and nurses who want to be able to prick. His parents in the eighties and nineties have not been fully vaccinated either.
He is also grateful, but hopes the Western world will steer even more. Which doesnt matter to him. “If youre rich, you can be picky which vaccine youre using. If youre dependent on donations, every vaccine is welcome.”
In fact, he has a preference for vaccines that are discussed in Western countries. “We have used the Astrazeneca vaccine so far. Its easier to store than Pfizer, for example, because it doesnt have to be in the freezer box but can be in a regular refrigerator. And logistics, Johnson & Johnsons vaccine is easy, because its just one shot.”
Meanwhile, more help is needed in other areas as well. Because while many African countries want more vaccines, they struggle to put the prick in the arm at the same time. And there are problems with vaccination readiness. “The large number of young people in our country does not see the need for an injection. The elders want to.”
In any case, Doctor Gakombe hopes to think about who to vaccinate worldwide first. Because he obviously looks at how younger populations all over the world are going to take a vaccination. “I dont think its smart to vaccinate children before the vulnerable populations in the world. As long as theres an outbreak somewhere, the world is not safe.”