While more than 1.3-billion Covid-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, 83% have gone to a handful of wealthy nations. Low-income countries – of which many are in Africa – have received a mere 0.3%. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) continues its global call-to-action to ‘Vaccinate Our World’ urges world leaders, vaccine manufacturers, and public health organizations to ‘VOW’ to protect humanity by providing equal access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, particularly in lower-income countries.
The ambitious but achievable ‘Vaccinate Our World’ call-to-action includes five primary tenets:
“If vaccine procurement proceeds at the current pace, experts are predicting that most of Africa won’t begin to see sufficient quantities of Covid-19 vaccines until early 2023, which is flatly unacceptable.”AHF South Africa Country Program Director Dr. Nduduzo Dube
“COVAX was well-intentioned, but with wealthy countries buying up enough vaccines to inoculate their citizens as much as five times over, it’s clear that it’s too little, too late. We must learn from our battle against HIV that we cannot wait for years to get lifesaving vaccines and medicines to people who need them most. It’s time that heads of government, global public health organizations, and pharmaceutical companies do all that’s necessary to ‘Vaccinate Our World’ now.”
In addition to securing adequate funding, vaccine production must be increased worldwide, which requires access to Covid-19 vaccine patents for the rapid scale-up of production. Information sharing and cooperation between nations must also be significantly increased—including removing self-imposed restrictions on vaccine exports for those countries with a surplus. Leaders from the G20 and global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank must also VOW to step up their contributions immediately.
“If one nation has Covid-19 and no access to vaccines, all countries are in danger,” added AHF Africa Bureau Chief Dr. Penninah Iutung. “The ‘VOW’ call-to-action is about uniting advocates worldwide and shining a spotlight on the immorality of vaccine rationing. While COVAX was established to help lower-income nations – the quantities of vaccines have been inadequate and have forced developing countries in Africa to fend for themselves in securing enough vaccines to protect their citizens. Legislators and decision-makers must do more to ensure that all countries have the requisite numbers of vaccines to ‘Vaccinate Our World’ and defeat the pandemic.”
The ‘Vaccinate Our World’ call-to-action kicked off in mid-April with a global digital advocacy campaign and has continued with virtual media events in Bangkok, São Paulo, and Johannesburg.