In search of a Covid-19 vaccine for Africa

By Nerea González and Irene Escudero

Johannesburg/Nairobi, Jul 14 (efe-epa).- If a vaccine against Covid-19 is developed how will it be distributed?

Africa has often been last in line in these cases but the continent wants to ensure that if an inoculation is developed against the coronavirus pandemic it reaches those living in the region.

Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, said at a press conference on Thursday: “Equity must be a central focus of our efforts. Too often, African countries have ended up at the back of the queue for new technologies, including vaccines.”

There are currently 190 Covid-19 vaccines in development with 16 of them in clinical trials.

But it is not so much when that medicine might be available but whether it will arrive that concerns experts in Africa.

Professor Helen Rees, chairwoman of the principal vaccine advisory group to the WHO’s regional office for Africa, known as the African Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group (RITAG), tells Efe: “We are indeed very worried that the phenomena of what we’ve been called vaccine nationalism should not occur.”

This phenomenon occurs when a country produces a vaccine and hoards it all for its own population.

The concern is not surprising in light of aggressive market behavior seen during the health crisis.

There have been disputes between countries over the purchase of masks and a rapid maneuver by the United States to acquire almost all available stocks of the antiviral drug remdesivir, one of the most effective treatments for severe cases of Covid-19.

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