"As Africa is now facing its third and biggest Covid wave so far, it is getting left behind in the race for vaccine doses," said the head of UNAIDS. "This vaccine apartheid is unacceptable."
World Health Organization revealed Thursday that Africa saw a 43% rise in Covid-19 deaths from the previous week, which notably had been described as the continent's "most dire pandemic week ever."
WHO's statement also highlighted vaccine shortages, noting that 52 million people across Africa have received shots since March—representing just 1.6% of the 3.5 billion people vaccinated worldwide. A mere 1.5% of the continent's population, or 18 million Africans, are fully vaccinated, compared with double-digit rates in various wealthy nations.
There is little room for African countries to buy doses on their own: Almost all of the vaccines forecast to be made in 2021 have already been sold. Some of the world's richest countries will have 1.9 billion doses more than they need to vaccinate their populations by the end of August. Those 1.9 billion surplus doses are "enough to vaccinate the entire adult population of Africa.
Andrea Taylor, an assistant director at the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, explained that "COVAX is a really lovely idea," but "... It didn't assume that wealthy countries would act in their own self-interest, and it should have done so."