Covid-19 vaccines
Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, AMREF Health Africa says vaccine supply shortage in Africa risks prolonging the pandemic, not just for millions on the continent, but for the world.

World leaders have pledged to share approximately one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses with poor countries to ramp up vaccinations.

At this year’s meeting hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, G7 countries committed to sharing at least 870 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines directly, with a plan to deliver at least half by the end of this year.

COVAX partners have welcomed the offer, along with continued support for exporting in significant proportions, promotion of voluntary licensing and not-for-profit global production.

COVAX will therefore work with the G7 and other countries that have stepped up to share doses, a move that will help address short-term supply constraints impeding global response to COVID-19 and lower the prospect of future deadly variants.

In readiness for the large volumes of doses expected under COVAX later this year, COVAX is urging multilateral development banks to release funding to help countries prepare their health systems for the large-scale rollout of the vaccines.

“This is an important moment of global solidarity and a critical milestone in the push to ensure those most at risk, everywhere are protected,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi).

“As we strive towards the goal of ending the acute phase of the pandemic, we look forward to working with countries to ensure these doses pledged are quickly turned into doses delivered.”

“This is a historic moment; as leaders of some of the wealthiest counties come together to ensure that all parts of the world have access to life-saving vaccines,” Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations added.

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“This pandemic has shown us that we cannot set national against international interests. With a disease like COVID-19 we have to ensure that we get it under control everywhere. There is still much to do to get vaccines in arms and ensure our R&D allows us to stay one step ahead of the virus. But for today we give pause and celebrate a watershed moment of political alignment and collaboration.”

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, said: “We have reached a grim milestone in this pandemic: There are already more dead from COVID-19 in 2021 than in all of last year. Without urgent action, this devastation will continue. Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines represents the clearest pathway out of this pandemic for all of us — children included.”

At the same time, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, stressed that “Many other countries are now facing a surge in cases – and they are facing it without vaccines. We are in the race of our lives, but it’s not a fair race, and most countries have barely left the starting line. We welcome the generous announcements about donations of vaccines and thank leaders. But we need more, and we need them faster.”

“Africa’s current vaccine supply shortage risks prolonging the pandemic, not just for millions on the continent, but for the whole world,” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, AMREF Health Africa.

“I applaud the Group of Seven’s leadership in sharing doses with COVAX and urge them – and others to share doses now, not later in the year, when our need is greatest.”

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