EU describes Africa's 'vaccine apartheid' talks as dramatic

Africa's leaders have criticised the hoarding of vaccines and refusal to share patents by rich nations, with President Cyril Ramaphosa describing the actions as "greedy".

FILE: A woman receives a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from a healthcare worker at the Zwartkops Raceway in Centurion on 13 August 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

DAKAR - European Union health ministers are set to discuss whether to adjust the travel bans imposed on southern Africa in response to the omicron variant.

Bloomberg is reporting that ministers may agree on the need for a PCR test for vaccinated nationals.

Many countries have reported cases of the Omicrom variant and not just Southern African nations.

The European Union has also described talks of a "vaccine apartheid" as dramatic – amid rising calls for fairness in funding and distribution among African leaders including President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The continent's leaders have criticised the hoarding of vaccines and refusal to share patents by rich nations, with Ramaphosa describing the actions as "greedy".

The leaders were addressing the opening ceremony of the Senegal Peace and Security Forum under way in Dakar.

President of the EU Council Charles Michel has sought to defend the region amid criticism levelled against developed nations by African leaders, saying the European Union was among the first to share millions of vaccine doses with underdeveloped nations through the World Health Organization’s Covax.

The continent's leaders pulled no punches when expressing their disappointment with the deep imbalance in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which they explained prejudiced poorer and underdeveloped countries.

Michel says the pandemic has humbled everyone and while the EU has "tried to take action", sometimes it has "made mistakes".

He did not directly address the banning of southern African travellers by EU member states, but called on African leaders to get on board a move to formulate a treaty to prevent future discrimination.

Michel says the continent can bank on the EU's determination to create a better world for both continents.

The EU has committed to delivering 500 million vaccine doses to Africans through the Covax facility by mid-2022 - half of which will be provided by the end of the year.