NIGERIAN President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday urged developed counties to rapidly ramp up supplies of coronavirus vaccines to Africa and the developing world, saying the current rate of delivery ‘leaves much to be desired.’
Buhari told an audience including French President Emmanuel Macron and US Vice President Kamala Harris at the Peace Forum conference in Paris that the low vaccination rates in Africa, compared with Europe, were a ‘clear case of lopsidedness.’
‘The coordination has to be total and the objective has to be the same – to deliver vaccines to the world. The state of vaccine delivery across the world leaves much to be desired.
‘We have a situation where some countries are giving third booster doses for their citizens when millions across the world – especially in the developing world — are yet to receive a single dose,’ he complained.
Citing statistics showing that so far only a fraction of Africa’s population had received a vaccination, Buhari said ‘a massive gap between vaccine requirements in Africa and vaccine availability is undermining the fight against coronavirus.’
His comments came after the World Health Organisation in September said that even the doses delivered by the Covax alliance, set up to ensure equitable delivery of jabs, would be hit this year by a major shortfall in supplies to Africa.
‘This is a major setback for Africa,’ Buhari said.
‘If global vaccination is the only way to end the coronavirus pandemic then all stakeholders must act in a coordinated manner to plug the vaccine gap in Africa,’ he said.
Responding to Buhari’s call in his address, Macron said the ‘key was to go right to the end on the ground’ in vaccine deliveries across the world.
But Macron acknowledged that even recent pledges made by the G7 and the G20 ‘are not enough,’ admitting that in parts of the developing world vaccination rates were 10 times lower.
‘We need to go much quicker and much faster – firstly by accelerating the donations of vaccine doses,’ he said, also emphasising the importance of strengthening domestic health systems.
But Macron said the key priority was to help Africa produce vaccines inside the continent and not be reliant on outsiders.
‘We cannot accept a situation where Africa represents 20 percent of (global) needs for vaccines – against whichever epidemic – but has a production capacity of two percent,’ said Macron.