By Ndumbe Bell Joseph Gaston in Douala
The President of the African Development Bank has called on producer countries of the covid-19 vaccine to do justice to Africa.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina was speaking at the launch of the Bank’s Africa 2021 Economic Outlook on Friday April 2. He denounced the lack of the pandemic’s vaccines reaching Africa and also decried the marked disparities existing between vaccine procurements by several rich countries that have stocked enough to jab their populations twice while African countries are mainly waiting for the COVAX initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which he applauded though it has done little.
In another opportunity he had with Julio Chatterley of the CNN, Dr Adesina categorically deplored the rate of attention to garner support through the COVAX initiative; “so far 14.6 millions vaccines have been delivered to Africa, but many people still cannot get their vaccines in their arms. It is only 1 of what we need and we are nowhere near 60 of herd immunity and unfortunately don’t see that happening for a year or two at this rate, not unless things change”.
Adesina made a global appeal to improve Africa’s access because the acquisition of vaccines has important economic and health implications for the African continent. In wider discussions with panellists at the launch of the 2021 economic outlook including Panellist Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2001 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, they agreed that a quick acquisition of vaccines, sufficient and affordable is a matter of life and death for, it will assure some longevity and preserve jobs.
They told participants that anything below that and the seemingly slow end of the pandemic, will have serious consequences to curb extreme poverty and negative economic growth including growing debts which has been exacerbated or exaggerated by the pandemic.
The African Development Bank boss who prognosticated that Africa’s economy is expected to grow 3.1 in 2021 despite all the odds, however pointed out that, 39 million Africans could be dashed into extreme poverty this same year caused by the pandemic unless and unless the Adesina-Stiglitz appeal is taken seriously by the international community.
Dr Akinwumi Adesina said that as long as Africans are not vaccinated, the world will return to square one and vaccine passports advocated by some developed countries would be a sham. “Africa needs to develop its pharmaceutical industry and start manufacturing and ADB will assist”.
Backing this same objective, Stiglitz in their wider discussions, said one of the obstacles he stated, was the intellectual property rights factor and called for its suspension if related to Covid.
“If access to intellectual property rights were more extensive, there is in all emerging market and developing countries a considerable capacity to produce much more vaccines”.
In an advisory tone,Dr.Adesina said it will be to no one’s interest to sideline Africa because the Virus mutates.
“The longer the disease spreads in any part of the world it can mutate and one of the things we know is that these mutations will not respect borders”.
Other notable African voices who have talked in same vein are the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Director of the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. John Nkengasong.