In a report documenting the vaccine situation in Africa, we see that the region remains the least vaccinated region globally, with only 37% vaccinated (30% fully) and therefore many still being infected and losing their lives on a daily basis. Here some examples for vaccination rates: Mali 17%, Burkina Faso 19%, Burundi <2%, Niger 22%, Ethiopia 32%, Democratic Republic of Congo 15%. We must ensure that the catastrophic loss of human life the world endured in the past 3 years of COVID-19 never occurs again. People worldwide are engaging in actions that are appropriate for their own countries.
This report is about Africa. The main obstacle in the region is limited access to vaccine technology. Unfortunately, major pharmaceutical companies prioritize profit over saving human lives, hampering efforts to combat the current pandemic, and prepare for future ones. The transfer of vaccine production technology for decentralized manufacturing is hindered by the control of Intellectual Property Rights by these pharmaceutical giants, with support from certain national governments. The removal of these barriers is crucial to promote knowledge and technology sharing.
While there has been progress in producing mRNA technology in Africa as will be discussed in this report, we need this development to be expedited further. Financial and political support is most especially needed to establish independent mRNA production in the region to become independent from the supply from other parts of the world.
Again, we call governments represented at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to do better than the slow and inadequate COVID-19 response. WTO members should take steps to approve an intellectual property waiver specifically for COVID-19 vaccines and expand it to encompass COVID-19 tests and treatments as well. Such a decision would significantly enhance accessibility to these life-saving products.
Many thanks to the support of the People’s Vaccine Alliance on program implementation for this. Read the full report here.