Ramaphosa: Africans struggling to access vaccines that were tested on them

Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned against ‘vaccine nationalism’, saying it risked endangering the recovery of not only countries like South Africa, but all nations.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa on 3 June 2020. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa said the African Union was working closely with the World Bank to ensure more countries had access to funding for COVID-19 vaccines.

Rampahosa, who chairs the African Union, delivered a virtual address on Wednesday on the continent's COVID-19 vaccine financing and development strategy.

To date, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team initiated by the president has acquired a provisional 270 million vaccine doses for African countries, with at least 50 million being available in April.

Earlier this week, Ramaphosa warned against ‘vaccine nationalism’, saying it risked endangering the recovery of not only countries like South Africa, but all nations.

This comes as western countries, perhaps hit harder by the virus, but above all richer, were creating a traffic jam by securing enough vaccines for up to three times their population.

Ramaphosa said the race for vaccines had put many AU countries at a disadvantage despite their involvement in the clinical development of a vaccine.

“The painful irony is that some of the clinical trials for these vaccines were carried out in Africa and now we cannot get access to the very vaccines that were tested on us. In other cases, vaccines are packaged right here, on the continent, yet we struggle to access them.”

He said measures had been taken to accelerate the access to a sufficient share of the global vaccine supply.

“For the past year, efforts have been under way to find vaccines that are both safe and effective. We finally have achieved the goal. The task before us is to step up global solidarity to ensure equitable access to the vaccines.”

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