#UK, US and EU get more Covid vaccines in six weeks than Africa has had all year

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The UK, EU and the US received more doses of Covid-19 vaccines in the past six weeks than African countries have had all year, according to analysis from the People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA).

Between November 11 and December 21 2021, the EU, UK and US received 513 million doses of vaccines. Countries in Africa received only 500 million throughout the whole year.

If current vaccination rates continue, by next Christmas manufacturers will still be failing to vaccinate everyone in Africa fully, the PVA said.

The Amnesty International-backed organisation says that, despite making billions in profit, Pfizer and Moderna refuse to share the new generation of vaccine technology with poorer countries.

Vaccine equity campaigners say governments in countries such as the UK risk “trapping the world in an endless cycle of variants, boosters, restrictions and even lockdowns” if low vaccination rates are allowed to persist in the global south.

The push by the PVA, which is made up of an array of not-for-profits including Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, for Moderna and Pfizer to share their vaccine formulations has received support from former and current global leaders, including Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

If low- and middle-income countries continue to be prevented from manufacturing vaccines themselves, new variants of coronavirus will continue to emerge and spread across the global community, the alliance’s campaigners have warned.

It is feared manufacturers will still be failing to fully vaccinate everyone in Africa by next Christmas (Ben Birchall/PA)
It is feared manufacturers will still be failing to fully vaccinate everyone in Africa by next Christmas (Ben Birchall/PA) / PA Wire

Just 8.6 per cent of Africans have been fully vaccinated to date. At the current rate of delivery by vaccine manufacturers, it will take until April 2023 for everyone on the continent to receive their first dose.

G7 countries will have 1.4 billion surplus doses by March 2022, even after giving all adults a booster, but are failing to deliver on donation pledges. The US has delivered only a quarter of the vaccines it promised to donate while the UK and Germany have delivered 15 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

Anna Marriott, health policy manager at Oxfam and PVA, said that blocking vaccine access in poorer countries was “prolonging the pandemic and all its suffering for every one of us”.

She added: “Rich countries are banking on boosters to keep them safe from Omicron and future variants of Covid-19. But boosters can never be more than a temporary and inadequate firewall. Extinguishing the threat of variants and ending this pandemic requires vaccinating the world. And that means sharing vaccine recipes and letting developing countries manufacture jabs for themselves.”

The new analysis comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented that “no country could booster its way out of the pandemic”.

The WHO director-general said on Wednesday: “Blanket booster programmes are likely to prolong the Covid-19 pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate”.

WHO scientists are now attempting to reverse-engineer Moderna’s US-taxpayer-funded vaccine, a process that will be two years shorter if the company shared its jab recipe.

Human Rights Watch and Médecins Sans Frontières identified more than 100 manufacturers which could produce mRNA vaccines if intellectual property barriers were removed and pharmaceutical companies transferred the technology and knowledge required.

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