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‘This IS INSANE’: African countries desperately short of COVID vaccine

by The Black Wall Street Times

By GERALD IMRAY Associated Press

covid vaccine africa

FILE – In this April 6, 2021, file photo Kenyans line up to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and provided through the global COVAX initiative, at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. In the global race to vaccinate people against COVID-19, Africa is tragically at the back of the pack. (AP Photo/Brian Ingasnga, File)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — In the global race to vaccinate people against COVID-19, Africa is tragically at the back of the pack.

In fact, it has barely gotten out of the starting blocks.

Less than 1 percent of South Africans vaccinated

In South Africa, which has the continent’s most robust economy and its biggest coronavirus caseload, just 0.8% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to a worldwide tracker kept by Johns Hopkins University. And hundreds of thousands of the country’s health workers, many of whom come face-to-face with the virus every day, are still waiting for their shots.

In Nigeria, Africa’s biggest country with more than 200 million people, only 0.1% are fully protected. Kenya, with 50 million people, is even lower. Uganda has recalled doses from rural areas because it doesn’t have nearly enough to fight outbreaks in big cities.

Chad didn’t administer its first vaccine shots until this past weekend. And there are at least five other countries in Africa where not one dose has been put into an arm, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As Western countries enjoy a surplus, African countries lack

The World Health Organization says the continent of 1.3 billion people is facing a severe shortage of vaccine at the same time a new wave of infections is rising across Africa. The shortfall is estimated at 700 million doses. And vaccine shipments to the continent have ground to a “near halt,” WHO said last week.

“It is extremely concerning and at times frustrating,” said Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong, a Cameroonian virologist who is trying to ensure some of the world’s poorest nations get a fair share of vaccines in a marketplace where they can’t possibly compete.

The United States and Britain, in contrast, have fully vaccinated more than 40% of their populations, with higher rates for adults and high-risk people. Countries in Europe are near or past 20% coverage, and their citizens are starting to think about where their vaccine certificates might take them on their summer vacations. The U.S., France and Germany are even offering shots to youngsters, who are at very low risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

covid vaccine africa

FILE – In this May 25, 2021, file photo, a health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine at the Orange Farm Clinic near Johannesburg. In the global race to vaccinate people against COVID-19, Africa is tragically at the back of the pack. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

A “moral catastrophe”

Poorer countries had warned as far back as last year of this impending vaccine inequality, fearful that rich nations would hoard doses.

In an interview, Nkengasong called on the leaders of wealthy nations meeting this week at the Group of Seven summit to share spare vaccines — something the United States has already agreed to do — and avert a “moral catastrophe.”

“I’d like to believe that the G-7 countries, most of them having kept excess doses of vaccines, want to be on the right side of history,” Nkengasong said. “Distribute those vaccines. We need to actually see these vaccines, not just … promises and goodwill.”

Biden Administration agrees to share

Others are not so patient, nor so diplomatic.

“People are dying. Time is against us. This IS INSANE,” South African human rights lawyer Fatima Hasan, an activist for equal access to health care, wrote in a series of text messages.

The Biden administration made its first major move to ease the crisis last week, announcing it would share an initial batch of 25 million spare doses with desperate countries in South and Central America, Asia and Africa.

Walking the talk

Then, on Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that the U.S. will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine that will be donated through the U.N.-backed COVAX program to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union over the next year. President Joe Biden was set to make the announcement Thursday before the start of the G-7 summit. The person spoke on condition of anonymity.

Billionaire British philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, who was born in Sudan, added his voice to the issue Tuesday, saying the pandemic-era phrase “Nobody is safe until everybody is safe” — often repeated by leaders of wealthy nations — will be meaningless until they share their excess vaccine.

“They say that while they are hoarding the vaccine,” Ibrahim said. “Can you walk the talk? Stop just talking like parrots, you know, and do you really mean what you said?”

covid vaccine africa

FILE – In this March 12, 2021, file photo, a hospital worker receives one of the country’s first coronavirus vaccinations, using the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and provided through the global COVAX initiative, at Yaba Mainland hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. In the global race to vaccinate people against COVID-19, Africa is tragically at the back of the pack. In Nigeria, Africa’s biggest country with more than 200 million people, only 0.1% are fully protected. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

New variants more deadly

Uganda just released a batch of 3,000 vaccine doses in the capital, Kampala — a minuscule amount for a city of 2 million — to keep its program barely alive.

There and elsewhere, the fear is that the luck that somehow enabled parts of Africa to escape the worst of previous waves of COVID-19 infections and deaths might not hold this time.

“The first COVID was a joke, but this one is for real. It kills,” said Danstan Nsamba, a taxi driver in Uganda who has lost numerous people he knew to the virus.

Residents of African countries face major obstacles to getting vaccinated

In Zimbabwe, Chipo Dzimba embarked on a quest for a vaccine after witnessing COVID-19 deaths in her community. She walked miles to a church mission hospital, where there were none, and miles again to a district hospital, where nurses also had nothing and told her to go to the region’s main government hospital. That was too far away.

“I am giving up,” Dzimba said. “I don’t have the bus fare.”

South African health workers faced similar disappointment when they crowded into a parking garage last month, hoping for vaccinations and ignoring in their desperation the social distancing protocols. Many came away without a shot.

Femada Shamam, who is in charge of a group of old-age homes in the South African city of Durban, has seen only around half of the 1,600 elderly and frail people she looks after vaccinated. It is six months, almost to the day, since Britain began the global vaccination drive.

“They do feel very despondent and they do feel let down,” Shamam said of her unvaccinated residents, who are experiencing “huge anxiety” as they hunker down in their sealed-off homes 18 months into the outbreak. Twenty-two of her residents have died of COVID-19.

“It really highlights the biggest problem … the haves and the have-nots,” Shamam said.

AP writers around the world contributed to this report.

4 comments

gregbreakpointgmailcom June 9, 2021 - 6:22 pm

Biden just purchased 500 million doses for world distribution now the US is well on our way to the 70% needed for herd immunity despite the unflagging efforts of MAGA media to politicize the issue and endanger everyone’s health. The latest efforts to completely make up a story about Fauchi and say he was in with the Chinese Red Army to weaponize COVID is beyond evil.
We should honor all life worldwide not just your white homeys.

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David Xanatos June 10, 2021 - 12:32 pm

In addition to the lack of vaccine, there’s also been a lack of interest. They have had the same issue in the US of not taking the virus seriously, disinformation spreading, with many doubting the virus even exists.

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Starla June 13, 2021 - 9:44 am

Many don’t doubt they in fact paid Wuhan China by Fauci himself funding for this experimentation. We know there is a “virus” it’s the modern day cold is what it is. The numbers of deaths are lies.. we have had faulty covid tests. We have also had hospitals naming the results of death occurring as being covid in certain instances at certain hospitals when the relatives noticed on the death certificates issued with them being confused.. but then of course it was learned that the more covid deaths and those who had used respirators that hospitals were financially compensated for that. And wasn’t it great to find out about the blood clotting that often goes along with COVID-19 which was causing deaths.. want to know where that info came from..? ITALY 🇮🇹, who went against American orders that demanded that autopsies NOT BE PERFORMED ON DECEASED COVID PATIENTS..!!! THANKS ITALY FOR DISOBEYING THE USA AND DOING THE HELPFUL RIGHT THING FOR HUMANITY..!!! THE US CANNOT BE TRUSTED PERIOD.. please read my other comment I left here it has additional helpful information

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Starla Gresham June 13, 2021 - 9:27 am

Everyone is just buying into the propaganda I’m American I can get this vaccine free whenever I want it here but will I..? Not no, BUT HELL NO. Tell me since when has America honestly cared about the 3rd world African countries..? Did you know that Africa is kept 3rd world due to America not caring. All of a sudden they care..? Really..? If they cared they would be like Machine Gun Preacher Sam Childers there who have built orphanages, schools, has farmland giving people jobs, training women to cook to find jobs themselves, digging wells for fresh water, Sam actually lives there making a difference.. and if needs to save a child from being recruited and put on drugs to then become a killer themselves who terrorizes people in the bush with a bullet in their dome…so be it.. but that child will be rescued at all costs.. if America cared they would be doing like him..look up all the experiments this country has done to its own people and foreigners. Horrendous, sinister, all out evil experiments and lied about doing them sacrificing our military, elderly, pregnant women, people in prison, children..here we are being offered incentives like free Uber rides to get the vaccines, free raffle tickets for sports events. Did you know that people are no longer dying from the flu anymore it’s all classified as covid 19 deaths now.. hmmm. Wonder what happened to that death percentage.. oh yeah hospitals get paid if it’s labeled a covid death and they get paid even more money if a respirator was used.. makes sense now.. be blessed and over joyed you have no covid vaccines available. Build the public’s natural immunity instead. Being D3 and Zinc. Stop fearing this thing. America is lying about its numbers of supposed deaths. Trust none of our news networks. Use your brain and honestly think about this.. Kaiser a major health provider of ours is calling the covid vaccine perfectly safe. Why would they do this when honestly we don’t really know.. they have an agenda and it’s to wipe out most the world’s population. Global warming the CO2 emissions is way too high so they say. They say that at the current rate we are going we would only have a few sustainable years here surviving as a planet. On the Bill Gates TedTalks he literally says the world is overpopulated and that if they did really good on vaccines the amount of PEOPLE COULD BE CONSIDERABLY LOWERED..!!! MEANING WE DIE..!! They DO NOT CARE ABOUT ANYONE BUT THEIR RICH ASS SELVES. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS MY FRIENDS. THEY LIE. Bill Gates the billionaire has an underground bunker under every house he owns all around the world however many there are.. why..? Because they have an agenda.. leaders do not sacrifice your own people. OUR LEADERS ESPECIALLY THIS ADMINISTRATION BEING BIDEN AND HIS CIRCUS ARE EVIL, MANIPULATIVE LIARS. IT BEGAN WITH CORRUPTION, WHEN THEY CONSPIRED AGAINST TRUMP WHO WAS GOOD FOR THIS COUNTRY BEING THE BUSINESS MAN HE WAS. WE NEEDED HIM BUT WHAT CAN I SAY BUT WE ARE MODERN DAY BABYLON. PLEASE HAVE EARS TO HEAR.. AND EYES TO SEE.
Current resident
In Babylon,
your friend,
starla d. gresham

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