France will give poor countries 120 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, double what it had previously planned, President Emmanuel Macron promised on Saturday. “The injustice is that in other continents, obviously, vaccination is very late. For us, collectively, he stated in a video sequence broadcast Saturday night during the Global Citizen charity concert in Paris. In Africa, only 3% of the population is vaccinated. We have to go faster, stronger. ”
Specifically, 6.4% of the population of the African continent has received a first dose of the anti-Covid-19 vaccine, according to data from the OurWorldinData website. And only 4.2% of Africans have effective protection with two doses of the vaccine. In fact, the contrast is striking with the rest of the continents, where the proportion of the vaccinated population varies between 47% (in Oceania) and 61% (in South America).
Vaccination by continent
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But behind these figures, for an entire continent, hides a great disparity between the different countries of Africa. As of September 22, nearly 7 out of 10 Mauritian residents (66.45%) had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while it affected only 0.11% of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) . Besides Mauritius, only Morocco, Cape Verde and Tunisia have vaccinated more than a quarter of their population. Seven countries, including Comoros and South Africa, exceed 10% of the vaccinated population, while most of the continent is below this bar.
Vaccination in Africa
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Lack of access to doses.
How to explain this delay in vaccination for an entire continent? The African population is no more reluctant to be vaccinated than elsewhere, a study by the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed in December 2020. According to the survey, conducted between August and December 2020 in 15 countries on the continent , 79% of those surveyed, or nearly 8 in 10, said they were ready to get vaccinated against Covid-19 with a “safe and effective” product.
The delay in vaccination in Africa is mainly a consequence of “the lack of access to doses,” epidemiologist Antoine Flahault told Paris. The cost of Covid-19 vaccines, up to € 20 per dose, is often too high for poor or developing countries.
And the Covax device, which aims to provide the vaccine to poor countries, has not met its goals. The World Health Organization (WHO) program and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance downgraded their forecasts in their latest bulletin published on September 8. By that date, 240 million doses had been delivered to 139 countries in six months through Covax. But the “general assessment of access to vaccines is unacceptable,” judges the organization in its press release.
Each in their corner
Above all, Covax only plans to distribute 1,425 million doses by the end of the year – compared to the 2,000 million initially expected – at least “in the absence of urgent actions to prioritize Covax by the producers. [de vaccin] and countries with high immunization coverage “.
The delay in Covax, and therefore vaccination in Africa, is largely due to the policies of developed countries, which have prioritized their own populations. “Initially, Covax was based on a mutualized purchase of vaccine doses, but many countries no longer exported and the richest were left alone in their corner,” said Nathalie Ernoult, a Parisian researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris) and co-director of the Global Health Observatory.
In addition, in a report on vaccination inequalities published this Wednesday, the NGO Amnesty International points to the lack of commitment of the companies that produce vaccines: “Despite the calls asking them to establish priorities and collaborate with the Covax system (.. .), some of the companies evaluated have continued to feed stocks in countries that are known to accumulate doses in large quantities. So far, all companies evaluated have refused to participate in internationally coordinated efforts to increase the global supply of vaccines through knowledge and technology sharing. . ”
In recent weeks, the WHO has repeatedly criticized the lack of solidarity of rich countries towards poor countries in the context of immunization. And the president of the French Republic is not the only one who has made promises to Covax this week: on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping assured in a video message to the UN that China intended to “provide a total of 2 billion of vaccine doses “. in the world before the end of the year, “he said, repeating a figure already given by the Chinese authorities, which however do not specify in what proportion it is sales or donations.
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Wednesday, the turn of the United States: Joe Biden announced that the country would double its donation to the device, raising the total of doses promised to poor countries to more than 1.1 billion. “We need other high-income countries to implement their ambitious commitments,” he said. On the same day, Spain announced a donation of a total of 30 million doses to developing countries, and Japan increased the number of doses it will deliver to the world to 60 million. The European Union, with which the United States intends to cooperate closely, promises to distribute more than 500 million doses.