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Dr Karim: Access to vaccines at global level crucial in suppressing COVID

Karim, who's the director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, has reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic one year after the country's first case was reported.

Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa), Professor Salim Abdool Karim. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Epidemiologist professor Salim Abdool Karim has on Thursday stressed the importance of fair access to COVID-19 vaccines to suppress the virus at a global level.

Karim, who's the director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, has reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic one year after the country's first case was reported.

The country's first case was reported on 5 March last year.

READ MORE: SA marks 1 year since the first COVID case was confirmed
The World Health Organization has called on richer countries to make equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines a reality for all countries.

Karim backed this by saying there was no scenario where one country could control the virus, while it spreads rampantly in the rest of the world.

“For the very simple reason, every time this virus makes a copy of itself, there is a small risk of a variant. When a virus is copying itself and there are many viruses copying themselves, the chance of a variant increases.”

Karim said this phenomenon posed a huge challenge to the way poorer countries went about their vaccination programmes.

“Rich countries can afford to keep buying new vaccines but for poor countries, we can’t keep doing that. It’s going to take us a long time to vaccinate the country once, let alone get another vaccine.”

WATCH: Reflecting on a year of COVID-19: SA is better geared for the future

He said there was a solution in the form of the WHO's Covax mechanism that createed vaccine equity and allowed COVID-19 vaccination in all countries to play out at a similar rate.

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