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14.06.2021 Feature Article

Vaccination and Healthcare for Africa NOW! Prevent Scourge of Covid-19 and Save Lives

Vaccination and Healthcare for Africa NOW! Prevent Scourge of Covid-19 and Save Lives
LISTEN JUN 14, 2021

This brief study, “Lessons for Africa from India’s Deadly COVID Surge,” by the African Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), is extremely relevant for Africans today.

The Daily Telegraph reports: “Coronavirus cases across Africa have surged by 25 per cent over the last week, sparking fears that the continent of 1.3 billion people is unprepared to deal with a ‘third wave’. The rise in cases stands in stark contrast to all other regions where infection rates are falling, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) statistics.”

According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, (Africa CDC) the death rate from covid-19 has increased 2% in the past week.

Clearly Africa is in danger of an upsurge of cases of the coronavirus with the potential of a third wave spreading across the African continent. African nations have only vaccinated between 1-2% of their populations.

United States President, Joe Biden, has pledged 200 million doses to be given to poorer nations desperately in need of the vaccine, like Africa, by the end of this year, and 300 million more by next June. However, to date, the U.S. has not delivered a single dose of the vaccine to underdeveloped nations. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has pledged 100 million doses of the vaccine, and the G-7 nations–U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and England, are expected to announce that 1 billion doses will be donated, with no delivery date. President Biden has already pledge $4 billion to COVAX, a worldwide vaccine distribution center based in Europe.

While these belated announcements of vaccine pledges by G-7 nations is good; it is not good enough. It has been six months since the U.S. began vaccinating Americans and has made progress towards vaccinating almost 290 million of its inhabitants 12 years and older. With Africa’s population nearing 1.5 billion, it will require 3 billion of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to inoculate its people from the coronavirus. Predictions are that only 50-60% of Africa’s population will be vaccinated by the end of 2022! Vaccinating half of the people living on the African continent, a year, and a half from now, will not do. It is unacceptable if we are really serious about defeating this deadly pandemic.

What Has To Be Done, Now!

Let me summarize from my earlier article: Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19

  • In order to fully vaccinate the expanding African population, African nations must be assisted in producing the vaccines locally. We have to develop vaccine manufacturing plants in Africa. This will also require waiving patent rights on the major vaccines.
  • There must be a massive upgrading of the deficient health infrastructure in African nations. More doctors, more hospitals, more hospital beds, more ICU rooms equipped with advanced medical equipment are necessary to prevent Africans from dying, who contract this deadly virus.
  • We should use the current emergency, the urgency of defeating this virus and saving lives, to do what we should have done 60 years ago; build infrastructure in Africa. Hospitals and manufacturing centers cannot run without electricity. High speed rail transportation for passengers and freight is a necessity. Distribution capacity of the vaccine to reach the population will require an expansion of existing infrastructure. Every nation must have medical schools to train nurses and doctors. Infectious disease and virology medical centers are also required. Increase food production is essential to build strong immune systems. Massive economic development especially in hard and soft infrastructure is required if we are going to prevent potentially millions of lives from needlessly perishing. To accomplish this mission, Africa needs a minimum of 1,000 gigawatts of electricity, and 100,000 kilometers of high speed rail.

Excerpts below from: “Lessons for Africa from India’s Deadly COVID Surge,”

“The surge in COVID-19 cases in India, spurred by a more transmissible variant and complacency, provides a stark warning to African populations to remain vigilant to contain the pandemic.”

“India’s COVID-19 surge is a warning for Africa. Like India, Africa mostly avoided the worst of the pandemic last year. Many Sub-Saharan African countries share similar sociodemographic features as India: a youthful population, large rural populations that spend a significant portion of the day outdoors, large extended family structures, few old age homes, densely populated urban areas, and weak tertiary care health systems. As in India, many African countries have been loosening social distancing and other preventative measures. A recent survey by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) reveals that 56 percent of African states were “actively loosening controls and removing the mandatory wearing of face-masks.” Moreover, parts of Africa have direct, longstanding ties to India, providing clear pathways for the new Indian variant to spread between the continents.”

“Ramping Up of Vaccine Campaigns. According to the Africa CDC, the continent has administered just 24.2 million doses to a population of 1.3 billion. Representing less than 2 percent of the population, this is the lowest vaccination rate of any region in the world. With the Indian and other variants coursing through Africa, the potential for the emergence of additional variants rises, posing shifting threats to the continent’s citizens. Containing the virus in Africa, in turn, is integral to the global campaign to end the pandemic. Recognizing the global security implications if the virus continues to spread unchecked in parts of Africa, the United Nations Security Council has expressed concern over the low number of vaccines going to Africa.”

Excerpts below from The Guardian: Third-wave-sweeps-across-Africa-as-Covid-vaccine-imports-dry-up

“The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising. Our priority is clear – it’s crucial that we swiftly get vaccines into the arms of Africans at high risk of falling seriously ill and dying of Covid-19,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa.”

“The WHO said the pandemic was now trending upwards in 14 countries and in the past week alone, eight countries had witnessed an abrupt rise of over 30% in cases. However, vaccine shipments to African nations have ground to a near halt.”

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