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Stop hoarding COVID vaccines, South Africa's Ramaphosa...

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Stop hoarding COVID vaccines, South Africa’s Ramaphosa tells rich nations

President Cyril Ramaphosa has put the interests of South Africa and its people above narrow party and personal interests, says the writer. (Photo: Baba Jiyane / GCIS
By Reuters
26 Jan 2021 7

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 26 (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday urged wealthy countries not to hoard surplus doses of COVID-19 vaccine, saying the world needed to come together to fight the pandemic.

By Alexander Winning

 

South Africa has recorded nearly half the coronavirus deaths in Africa, and the continent as a whole is struggling to secure sufficient vaccines to start countrywide inoculation programmes for its 1.3 billion people.

“We need those who have hoarded the vaccines to release the vaccines so that other countries can have them,” Ramaphosa told a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

“The rich countries of the world went out and acquired large doses. … Some countries even acquired up to four times what their population needs … to the exclusion of other countries.”

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week described this unequal access as a “catastrophic moral failure”, urging countries and manufacturers to spread doses more fairly around the world.

Ramaphosa chairs the African Union, which this month secured 270 million shots for the continent to supplement 600 million doses coming from the COVAX scheme co-led by the WHO.

Those doses are expected to become available this year but none have arrived yet, while parts of Europe, Asia and the Americas are well into their vaccination programmes.

Britain has ordered 367 million doses of seven different vaccines – some already approved and some candidate drugs – for its population of roughly 67 million, while the European Union has secured nearly 2.3 billion doses for its 450 million people.

Ramaphosa, who has been criticised at home for not securing vaccines sooner, said African countries wanted quicker access. “We are all not safe if some countries are vaccinating their people and other countries are not,” he said.

South Africa has recorded more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases and 41,000 deaths, out of more than 3.4 million cases and 86,000 deaths continent-wide.

Pretoria’s efforts to secure vaccines for two-thirds of its roughly 60 million people have been complicated by its weak finances and because, as an upper-middle-income country, it has to self-fund its participation in COVAX.

It is scheduled to receive 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine produced in India in January and February, and says it will get a further 9 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, but the timing is uncertain.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning Editing by Tim Cocks and John Stonestreet)

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All Comments 7

  • The begging bowl mentality is so ingrained in us. We could have had the vaccines at much cheaper if we were not sleeping on the job. And if we are not saving to bail SAA out!

  • I CANNOT IMAGINE COUNTRIES HELPING SOUTH AFRICA WHIST PEOPLE REMAIN IN SENIOR POSITIONS IN GOVERNMENT WHILST FACING CORRUPTION CHARGES. SOME COUNTRIES MIGHT EXPECT THEIR HELP TO BE RESOLD ON THE OPEN MARKET BY THE SAME PEOPLE WHO PROFITED FROM THE PPE SCANDAL

  • Stop the rot in your own party and purchase the vaccines instead of begging to other nations who are all scrambling to access enough for their own citizens. There isn’t a glut of vaccines at this time so act responsibly.

  • Seriously Cyril! How disingenuous! There is not 1 country in the world that has vaccines in abundance. Furthermore, the West/rich countries and even the not so rich acted promptly to secure their vaccines as they put the interests of the country first and foremost!!! Unlike here where the interests of your obnoxious ruling party always trumps everything else!!! And by the way, it was only due to the huge outcry from the public that suddenly your government woke up and scrambled to obtain vaccines. The fact that we haven’t got the money, besides borrowing, turning to the maligned private sector or squeezing the already overburdened tax payer, is thanks to your party’s all consuming DNA for rapacious stealing and corruption. Don’t blame others for doing what is right and not being asleep at the wheel.

  • Isn’t it amazing that someone who sides with criminals and votes against the western countries in support of dictators at the UN and other fora has the gall to ask the countries he has abused to ask for vaccines and really expects to be helped.

  • If we could recover a tiny fraction of the vast sums stolen in what must rank as the largest epidemic of corruption per capita in the history of the modern world, we could comfortably pay for the vaccine. And to think that those truly evil Gupta ******** are sitting comfortably and smirking at us from their haven in the Middle East with a massive pile of our money!!
    There are no words….

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