the vaccine divide continues with the countries of the South

The appointment had been made for several months. In front of the 194 Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO), this Monday, May 24, 2021, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called countries around the world “To support a massive effort to vaccinate at least 10% of the population of each country by the end of September”, denouncing the vaccine fracture. A “Scandalous injustice”, insisted the director general of the WHO, who saw the richest countries monopolize most of the supplies of vaccines against the Covid-19, while the bottles arrived in a dropper in the countries of the South.

In the end, the schedule was not kept. At 1er October, some fifty countries had still not crossed the fateful threshold. Africa, where more than one in seven inhabitants of the planet resides, is by far the main loser in the race for vaccination against Covid-19. Just 4% of its residents have received the two injections (or a single injection in the case of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine) necessary for their immunization, compared to around 61% in high-income countries, according to data from the United Nations Organization.

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Of the continent’s 54 states, only fifteen – barely 30% – have thus managed to fully immunize at least 10% of their population. If, among them, some record high rates, like the Seychelles or Mauritius, which both exceed the 60% mark of vaccinated, or Morocco and Tunisia, which respectively reached 50% and 29% immune, most barely meeting the target.

Delivery difficulties

South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe are only approaching 15%, while Lesotho, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania have just crossed 12%. As for states below the 10% target, the contrast is even more striking. More than half of them covered less than 3% of their population. A failure for the Covax mechanism, the global program under the aegis of the WHO intended to ensure equitable access to vaccines to the most deprived countries.

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The device, which is partly based on international solidarity, planned to provide 2 billion doses of vaccines to countries in the South in 2021, but only 311 million of them have been distributed to date. Annoyed, many of these countries have therefore resigned themselves in parallel to conclude, as a matter of urgency, bilateral agreements with vaccine manufacturers to alleviate the vaccine shortage, burdening their already meager budgets.

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