Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has accused the West of hoarding Covid-19 vaccines and “purchasing many times more doses than they need.”
In an opinion article published on the news website The Guardian, the outspoken African leader “the current situation with regard to the access and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines vividly illustrates the decades-old contradictions of the world order.”
“Rich and powerful nations have rushed to lock up supply of multiple vaccine candidates,” Kagame said adding that “leaves African and other developing countries either far behind in the vaccine queue, or not in it at all.”
President Kagame also writes that “there are worrying signs of vaccine nationalism in Europe and North America.
The pressures on political leaders to vaccinate all their citizens before sharing supplies with others is understandable. But forcing smaller or poorer countries to wait until everyone in the north has been catered for is shortsighted.”
The Rwandan leader further writes that “delaying access to vaccines for citizens of developing countries is ultimately many times more costly. The pandemic will rage on, crippling the global economy.
New mutations may continue to emerge at a more rapid pace. The world risks reversing decades of human development gains and eclipsing the 2030 sustainable development goals.”
According to Mr. Kagame, “the Covax facility, led by the World Health Organization, was supposed to ensure doses for 20% of Africa’s people – right from the start and at the same time as richer countries.”
“However, nearly two months after the first vaccines have been administered, it is still not clear when African nations will be able to start immunising people, though the first doses may begin reaching the continent later this month,” he writes.
President Kagame is proposing that the rich world helps “developing countries get the same fair prices that they have already negotiated for themselves.”
“The African Union and Afreximbank have set up the Africa Medical Supplies Platform to help countries secure financing by providing advance commitment guarantees of up to $2bn to manufacturers.
The platform has negotiated an initial order of 270m doses, but this is still very far from the 60% coverage Africa needs to achieve some measure of herd immunity, and there is no telling when those supplies will be available,” President Kagame explained.
He concludes that “Africa is not sitting back and waiting for charity. We have learned our lessons from the past. All we ask for is transparency and fairness in vaccine access, not the protectionism currently in play.”