As the Omicron surge continues to subside in America and restrictions are being dropped, many are looking to prevent the next variant. While rich western countries have had chances at booster shots, vaccine inequality has left less well-off countries behind.
As the New York Times points out, “Currently, just 12 percent of the African population — or 168 million people — have been fully vaccinated, according to the W.H.O., with Africa accounting for just 3.5 percent of the 10.3 billion doses administered globally.”
Additionally, the New York Times reports that the United States will increase vaccine assistance to 11 African countries in sub-Saharan Africa — Angola, Eswatini, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Nigeria, and more. The Biden administration’s plan for “intensive financial, technical and diplomatic support” is through the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access. The World Health Organization has also begun sending 42 experts to at least 18 African countries facing challenges in administering vaccines–another challenge along with disinformation that is hampering efforts.
This effort will be based “on the burden of Covid-19 on their populations, the capacity of their health systems, their readiness to quickly administer vaccine doses in the absence of supply constraints and their ability to deploy additional U.S. investments effectively.” The vaccination rate needs to increase to six times the current amount if the continent hopes to meet the 70% target set for the middle of 2022.
Just today, the WHO announced by a press release that six African countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal, will receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa welcomed the collective push.
“This is an initiative that will allow us to make our own vaccines and that, to us, is very important,” Mr. Ramaphosa said in a statement. “It means mutual respect, mutual recognition of what we can all bring to the party, investment in our economies, infrastructure investment and, in many ways, giving back to the continent.”