Covid-19: African leaders renew calls for vaccine equity at Berlin summit

Medical/Health Care

BERLIN— African leaders attending a summit in Germany renewed calls for Covid-19 vaccine patent waivers, saying the decision would allow countries access to affordable jabs.

Africa has administered the least vaccines of any continent while some richer countries have inoculated nearly their entire adult populations.

African countries have mostly relied on multilateral and bi-lateral donations. Activists have called the inequity vaccine apartheid.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called the unequal access to vaccines ‘not fair’.

“We expressed our disappointment, we expressed our unhappiness, and said that it’s not fair that Africa has only vaccinated only 2% of the entire population of the 1.3 billion population and yet, the more developed countries in the north have vaccinated up to 60%,” Rampahosa said

German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has rejected calls to waive vaccines patents said it was a ‘dramatic injustice’ that Africa’s vaccination rates remained low.

“The availability, as well as the production of the vaccines, is linked to the economic wellbeing of the African continent and when we see today that we have vaccinated more than 60% of our population and that it is 2% in Africa, it is, of course, a dramatic injustice which we need to overcome, we talked about that honestly today,” she said.

On Friday, German laboratory BioNTech announced that it was aiming to set up vaccine production centers in Rwanda and Senegal next year