World risks 'moral catastrophe' if COVID shots delayed in Africa, its CDC chief says

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The world risks a 'moral catastrophe' if COVID-19 vaccinations are delayed in Africa while wealthier regions inoculate their entire populations, the head of the continent's disease control body said on Thursday.

Reuters January 01, 2021 00:12:19 IST
World risks 'moral catastrophe' if COVID shots delayed in Africa, its CDC chief says

World risks moral catastrophe if COVID shots delayed in Africa its CDC chief says

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The world risks a "moral catastrophe" if COVID-19 vaccinations are delayed in Africa while wealthier regions inoculate their entire populations, the head of the continent's disease control body said on Thursday.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hopes significant vaccination campaigns on the continent will begin in April, its head, John Nkengasong, told reporters.

"That's a long way to go given that this virus transmits very quickly," he said, adding that in Africa, "the second wave is here with a vengeance".

Cases of the new coronavirus increased by nearly 19% since last week and deaths increased by 26%, according to Africa CDC data. Africa has recorded 2.7 million coronavirus infections and 64,000 deaths as of Thursday, it says.

South Africa, where a new variant of the virus has been detected, recorded 82,000 cases in the past week, he said.

"We cannot delay, we need those vaccines and need them now," Nkengasong said.

The major blockers to vaccinations beginning in Africa are global availability of doses and financing, he said.

Wealthy nations have acquired vaccines in excess of what they need, he said.

"We don't have to get into a moral crisis, where these things are stocked in the developed world and we in Africa are struggling to have," Nkengasong said.

The African Union is in talks with the European Union, Canada, and pharmaceutical companies to secure doses, he said, to secure vaccines in addition to what Africa has been promised by the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme. COVAX is a global scheme to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries.

"This would easily become a moral catastrophe if we should not come together as one to address going forward as early as possible in 2021 and meet Africa at its point of need."

Approval processes for various vaccines will likely be fast-tracked through a central African Union process, he said.

A handful of nations on the continent are further along.

Morocco said earlier this month it plans to roll out China's Sinopharm vaccine within weeks as soon as its Phase 3 trials are over, while Egypt received its first shipment of Sinopharm vaccines on Dec.11. [L1N2IO22Z] [L8N2IQ70D]

South Africa expects to get the COVAX vaccine by the second quarter of 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday. The COVAX alliance said on Dec. 18 its first deliveries were due in early 2021, without giving a specific date.

African governments should learn the lesson that local manufacturing of vaccines and strong testing capacities are critical, Nkengasong said, noting that the continent faced the same scenario of a scramble for vaccines - and Western nations far ahead - more than a decade ago during the H1N1 swine flu outbreak.

(Reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Nick Macfie)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Scotland's seafood exporters dealt new post-Brexit blow
World

Scotland's seafood exporters dealt new post-Brexit blow

By Kate Holton LONDON (Reuters) - The post-Brexit woes facing Scotland's fishing industry deepened on Saturday as its biggest logistics provider, DFDS Scotland, said it would halt exports to the European Union through one of its main services until at least Wednesday. Previously the company had said it would take until Monday to resume its "groupage" export service - which allows exporters to ship multiple products in a single consignment - while it tries to fix IT issues, paperwork errors and a backlog of goods. DFDS's move represents another blow for Scottish fishermen who this week warned that their businesses could become unviable after Britain shifted to a less integrated trade deal with the EU at the turn of the year

Pope Francis to have COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week
World

Pope Francis to have COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis said on Saturday he planned to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as early as next week and urged everyone to get a shot, to protect not only their own lives but those of others.

U.S. Senator urges mobile, social media providers to keep Capitol rioters' data as man seen seizing Speaker's lectern arrested
World

U.S. Senator urges mobile, social media providers to keep Capitol rioters' data as man seen seizing Speaker's lectern arrested

By Rich McKay (Reuters) - A man photographed carrying off the Speaker's lectern during the Capitol Hill riots was arrested late Friday, while a top Democratic lawmaker on Saturday called on mobile carriers to preserve social media content related to the riots. Dozens of people have been charged following the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, with the FBI asking the public for help identifying participants, given the proliferation of images of the riots on the internet.