Africa: As Covid Deaths Skyrocket, WHO Moves to Speed African Vaccine Production and Reduce Threat of Vaccine-Evading Variants

Washington, DC — African deaths from Covid19 have increased 80 percent in four weeks, driven by the Delta variant, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced today from Geneva.

“All regions are at risk,” he said, “but none more so than Africa…Many African countries have prepared well to roll out vaccines, but the vaccines have not arrived.”

Less than two percent of all Covid vaccine doses have been administered across Africa’s 55 countries. Only 1.5 percent of African’s are fully vaccinated.

The UN global health body announced two new steps today to address the growing pandemic emergency crisis.

1.  The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator is launching Radar – the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response, which is issuing an urgent call for U.S.$7.7 billion for tests, treatments and vaccines.

2. A collaboration has been signed by a group of partners who will speed the production of Covid vaccines in Africa,initially by a South Africa-based facility.

The partners are WHO; the Medicines Patent Pool; Afrigen Biologics; the Biologicals and Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa; the South African Medical Research Council and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) based at the Africa Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

At today’s briefing, WHO advisor Dr. Bruce Aylward, a Canadian epidemiologist who has experience in polio elimination and controlling Ebola, asked, “How do we approach this as a world?” With the much more infectious Delta variant spreading, he said, “We can’t vaccinate our way out of this in one country.”

WHO experts,along with other infectious disease doctors around the world, have long insisted that what has come to be called #VaccineEquity is not charity. Sharing vaccines with the world’s most vulnerable people, including front-line health-care workers, is the only way to reduce the likelihood of new mutations that make Covid even more dangerous, said American corona virus researcher Dr. Maria Van Kerkove,who heads WHO’s Covid technical response.

There is enough vaccine in the world, and there is enough money, Alyward said. But because neither vaccine-producing countries or pharmaceutical companies are sharing sufficiently – what he called “a stain on our consciences” – Africa must be supported to control its own supply chain of vaccines, tests and treatments.

The reasons African countries have been shut out of the vaccine marketplace are numerous and complex. But one reason is that the world’s wealthiest countries rushed to lock in their own supplies.

For example, last year Pfizer’s German partner BioNTech received $445 million from the government in Berlin to develop and produce the vaccine, and the United States committed nearly $200 billion to buy the vaccines produced, with an option to buy more.

Two days ago, Bloomberg reported that Pfizer expects Covid vaccine sales to produce revenues of $33.5 billion this year, an upwards adjustment from forecasts last month.

The Delta variant has now been detected in at least 132 countries. The speed of its spread and the lack of effective government actions to control it are causing physicians who study the virus to fear the emergence of a variant that will evade all existing vaccines – with the potential to become a real-life doomsday virus.

But Tedros says the world must not despair. It should act. “We have all the tools we need: we can prevent this disease, we can test for it, and we can treat it” he said. “The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it. It’s in our hands.”


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Author : allAfrica

Publish date : 2021-07-30 20:04:59

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