Health and finance ministers from Africa are to meet the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
“I will tell them that we are doing everything that we can to accelerate the roll out of vaccines in Africa. To save lives and get their economies back on track. The rest of the world must play its part,” WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists ahead of Wednesday’s virtual meeting.
It comes a day after South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the chairperson of the Africa Union, pleaded with rich nations to share their excess vaccines doses with poorer countries.
Rich countries had bought nearly 800 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, enough to vaccinate their entire populations before poorer countries were able to do so, said Dr Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“They also have another 1.4 billion doses of different vaccine options.
“But to ensure that poorer countries start vaccinating their populations against Covid-19 we are looking at approaching rich and asking them to donate excess vaccines to poorer countries,” Dr Berkley said at the ongoing virtual conference organised by the World Economic Forum.
“If that won’t work, we will tell them that we would be willing to buy the surplus from them,” he added.
More than 45 countries globally have begun Covid-19 vaccinations.
In Africa, only Egypt, Morocco, Guinea, Mauritius and Seychelles have started vaccinating frontline healthcare workers and those who are vulnerable.
These five countries are using vaccines that have been donated to them by allied richer nations.
Despite approving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, WHO is yet to give the greenlight for its distribution to African countries.