While South Africa welcomed the donations and sharing of vaccines to developing countries, President Cyril Ramaphosa told an international summit that developing countries should be enabled to manufacture their own vaccines as well as to procure them directly.
At the virtual Global COVID-19 Summit on ending the pandemic held last Wednesday (22 September), Ramaphosa thanked US President Joe Biden for convening the event, and applauded the generosity of America for donating millions of vaccines to several countries worldwide to help them cope with the pandemic.
“South Africa has been a very grateful beneficiary of your generosity,” he said, according to a statement issued by the Presidency, “for which we thank you.”
However, while Ramaphosa said South Africa was encouraged that the goals and targets for ending the pandemic were broadly aligned with the key components of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, current realities needed to be considered.
“We have committed to vaccinating at least 70% of the worldʼs population by next year, but we are now at the end of September and have not reached the 10% target we set ourselves in May. The gulf is widening between better-resourced nations, which are buying up and even hoarding vaccines, and developing countries that are struggling to have access to vaccines. The pandemic has revealed the full extent of the vaccine gap between developed and developing economies and how that gap can severely undermine global health security.
“Of the around six billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, only two percent of these have been administered in Africa, a continent of more than 1,2 billion people. This is unjust and immoral.
“While we welcome the donations and sharing of vaccines to developing countries, we reiterate our proposal that developing countries should be enabled to manufacture their own vaccines as well as to procure them directly. South Africa and India have proposed that the WTO should approve the proposal we have made for the waiver of the TRIPS provision.
“With a view to ensuring that African countries would have better access to vaccines, all African Union member states signed an agreement through The Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to gain access to 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“South Africa will also host the WHOʼs first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub to serve the continent. Other African countries are also building capacity for manufacturing, supported by Partnership for Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa.”
He said this summit must generate a sustainable plan on how developing countries would be supported: not only to meet targets around vaccination, oxygen, diagnostics, personal protective equipment but also for manufacturing.
“We must close the financing and supply gap for COVAX, AVATT and other mechanisms. The greatest lesson we have learned from this pandemic is that fortune favours the prepared. We support the establishment of a global health Financial Intermediary Fund for pandemic preparedness, as well as a Global Health Threats Council.
“Cooperation, collective action and above all consensus, are our greatest strengths in the current crisis, and will continue to be so in the future.”
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