By Catherine Ageno
UNICEF Africa ambassadors are calling on G20 members to deliver more Covid-19 vaccine doses to African countries before December 2021, along with necessary resources to turn the vaccine into vaccination.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s G20 leaders’ summit, the nearly 50 ambassadors have noted with concern that so far these countries have received 15 times more covid-19 vaccine doses per capita than Sub-Saharan African countries.
This analysis was conducted by science analytics company Airfinity, which exposes the severity of vaccine inequality between high incomes and low-income countries especially in Africa.
It found that doses delivered to G20 countries per capita are; 15 times higher than doses delivered per capita to sub-Saharan African countries, 15 times higher than doses delivered per capita to low-income countries, and 3 times higher than doses delivered per capita in all other countries combined.
In a joint appeal, the ambassadors including health minister Dr Jane Acheng also note that less than 5 percent of the African population are fully vaccinated, leaving many countries at high- risk of further outbreaks.
As leaders prepare to meet for the G20 Summit in Rome this weekend, the UNICEF ambassadors and supporters from across the continent have united in an open letter.
The letter’s signatories including Winnie Byanyima, the UNAIDS Executive Director and renowned Benin singer Angelique Kidjo are calling on leaders to donate the pledged vaccines urgently.
“Every day Africa remains unprotected, pressure builds on fragile health systems where there can be one midwife for hundreds of mothers and babies”, the letter reads.
The leaders say wealthy countries with more supplies than they need have generously pledged to donate these doses to low-and middle-income countries via COVAX but these promised doses are moving too slowly. Of the 1.3 billion additional doses countries have pledged to donate, only 194 doses have been provided to COVAX.
“Vaccine inequity is not just holding the poorest countries back, but the entire world, so as leaders meet to set priorities for the next phase of the Covid-19 response, it is vital they remember that in the COVID vaccine race we either win together or lose together”, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some 80,000 to 180,000 healthcare workers globally are estimated to have died from Covid-19 between January 2020 and May 2021. Less than 1 in 10 healthcare workers in Africa have been fully vaccinated and more than 128,000 have been infected with the virus. The agency has also found only one in seven Covid-19 infections are detected in Africa due to limited testing, meaning the actual figure is likely to be much higher.
In Uganda, according to Health minister Dr Ruth Acheng, a total of 8,543,810 doses of Covid-19 vaccines comprising AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
Of the vaccines received, 2,688,361 doses have so far been administered, and of these, 2,07,273 have received the 1st dose while 612,088 have received the 2nd dose of the vaccine.
A total of 4.8 million vulnerable population including health workers, teachers, security personnel, elederly (50 years and above with co-morbidities) were priritised for vaccination.
Also added to this category are about 330,000 students in tertiary institutions aged 18 years and above to facilitate re-opening of these institutions.
According to ministry of health statistics, the vaccination coverage of the priority groups of people who have received full vaccination (2 doses) of the Covid-19 vaccine stands as follows;
- Health workers 42.9%
- Security personnel 22.8%
- Teachers 20%
- Elderly 4.8%
- People with co-morbidities 2.5%
- the ministry of health officials, between October and December, Uganda will receive the following vaccines:
– 700,000 doses of Sinovac from China
– 1,342,400 doses of AstraZeneca from Belgium and France.
– 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the European Union.
– 3 million doses of Pfizer vaccines from the US government.
– 1.2 million doses of Johnson and Johnson procured by the government.
– Slightly 346,000 out of the 2,060,400 doses of Sinopharm procured by the government of Uganda, is the latest consignment to be received. These were received by the National Medical Stores (NMS) yesterday.