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Africa welcomes COVAX doses but warns against ‘selfishness’

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KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) – Urgent calls for justice for COVID-19 vaccines were heard in Africa on Friday as doses were more welcomed or more widespread than the COVAX global initiative, with officials clearly aware that their continent was demanding more.

“Rich countries should not be so selfish,” said Pontiano Calibu, head of the Uganda Virus Research Institute, as his country prepared to receive its first doses. “It’s worrying, everyone is talking about it.”

The population of 45 million people in East Africa saw less than 1 million doses of the vaccine reach 864,000. This is the first batch of 18 million COVAX doses for Uganda, but it is unknown when all will arrive.

“That number will not do much,” said Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and adviser to the president, adding that “we can advocate for more vaccines, but we need to evaluate what we get.”

He urged 54 African countries to allocate more resources, however limited, to secure more rations. “As an alliance, we must organize ourselves instead of sitting down to cry.”

Former Nobel Peace Prize laureate ուի Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu և and his wife Leah were named in a statement on Friday, saying “more urgent action is needed to give low-income countries faster access to COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostic tools” և treatments. ” It notes that few rich countries have the majority of vaccine doses.

“This is not a time for selfishness,” the statement said, citing growing calls for the COVID-19 vaccine to be given over to intellectual property rights, allowing for faster, wider production, a proposal that is opposed by EU countries, including the United States and Britain. : Canada.

Although the COVAX initiative was set up for low- and middle-income countries to receive COVID-19 vaccines, it has faced delays in its limited supply.

Even though Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s African director, said on Thursday that nearly 10 million COVAX doses had been shipped to 11 African countries, he was finally unable to resist.

He added: “We expect about half of African countries to receive COVAX deliveries within the next week, and most countries will have vaccination plans by the end of March.”

The goal is for countries to be able to vaccinate 20% of their population with COVAX doses by the end of this year. Far from 60% նպատակ goals – to achieve the so-called “herd immunity” when enough people are protected from infection or vaccination to prevent the virus from spreading continuously.

“You expect us to receive the initial 9 million doses from COVAX at this point, instead of less than 1 million,” said Misaki Weiengera, head of Uganda’s technical response committee. He worries that the delay in getting the vaccines could mean several months before some people get the second shot they need.

Uganda aims to vaccinate 20% of its population with COVAX-derived doses and 40% with public-private vaccination.

COVAX delays have prompted other African countries to seek other doses elsewhere, including through bilateral deals that may be unfavorable.

Uganda has announced plans to buy 18 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Indian Serum Institute, but the country is facing cash.

And it is not clear how much the doses will cost. Some critics have lamented that low-income countries are paying more for a single dose of COVID-19 than the rich.

One of the WTO officials in Africa, Richard Mihigo, on Thursday disappointed African countries with bilateral deals because of the risk of paying a high price. Instead, the African Union is making bargain deals for the continent, but it has also faced delays.

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