WHO: Rich Countries’ Chokehold on COVID Vaccines Prolongs Pandemic in Africa

The World Health Organization is warning that COVID-19 vaccine export bans and hoarding by wealthy countries will prolong the pandemic in Africa, preventing recovery from the disease in the rest of the world.

While more than 60% of the U.S., European Union, and British populations have been vaccinated, only 2% of COVID vaccine shots have been given in Africa.

The COVAX facility has slashed its planned COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to Africa by 25% this year. WHO Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti says the 470 million doses now expected to arrive by the end of December are enough to vaccinate just 17% of Africans on the continent.

“Export bans and vaccine hoarding still have a chokehold on the lifeline of vaccine supplies to Africa.… Even if all planned shipments via COVAX and the African Union arrive, Africa still needs almost 500 million more doses to reach the yearend goal. At this rate, the continent may only reach the 40% target by the end of March next year,” Moeti said.

The WHO reports more than 8 million cases of COVID-19 in Africa, including more than 200,000 deaths. Forty-four African countries have reported the alpha variant and 32 countries have reported the more virulent and contagious delta variant.

Moeti warns of further waves of infection and loss of life in this pandemic. Given the short supply of vaccines, she urges strict adherence to preventive measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing.

She reiterates WHO’s call for a halt to booster shots in wealthy nations, except for those with compromised immune systems and at risk of severe illness and death.

“I have said many times that it is in everyone’s interest to make sure the most at-risk groups in every country are protected. As it stands, the huge gaps in vaccine equity are not closing anywhere near fast enough. The quickest way to end this pandemic, is for countries with reserves to release their doses so that other countries can buy them,” she said.

Moeti said African countries with low vaccination rates are breeding grounds for vaccine-resistant variants. She warned this could end up sending the world back to square 1, with the pandemic continuing to ravage communities worldwide if vaccine inequity is allowed to persist.

Source: Voice of America


Guinea Junta Defiant Over Letting Conde Leave Country

Guinea’s junta has said it will not bow to pressure from West African leaders to allow ousted President Alpha Conde to leave the country.

Dozens of Guineans protested against sanctions levelled against their country as two West African presidents arrived for talks with coup leaders on Friday (September 17).

One sign says ECOWAS, that’s West Africa’s main regional bloc, “doesn’t decide for us”.

But it wasn’t only outside the airport in the capital Conakry where defiance was on show.

On Thursday (September 16), ECOWAS agreed to freeze the financial assets of the junta and their relatives, and bar them from traveling.

The next day presidents Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast and Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo arrived in Guinea.

They were asking for Conde’s release.

But on state television the junta, which seized power two weeks ago, said: “The former president is and remains in Guinea. We will not yield to any pressure.”

After talks with coup leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, Akufo-Addo said they had held “honest, brotherly meetings” and that he was confident Guinea and ECOWAS would find a way to “walk together.”

Source: Voice of America