Scientists have demanded an end to the Covid-19 vaccine handout bonanza by rich countries.
They said the donation of vaccines that are about to expire will not end the current shortage caused by hoarding by rich countries.
Africa has received less than two per cent of the total 773 million worldwide-administered doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
Head of the Nairobi-based Aids Healthcare Foundation Samuel Kinyanjui noted Kenya is also facing a vaccines shortage.
“Nearly four million people are most at-risk in Kenya – but only one million vaccine doses are currently available,” Dr Kinyanjui said.
Some of the vaccines being donated are about to expire. For instance, the 358,700 doses of the Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine donated by Denmark to Kenya, will expire on July 31, giving Kenya only five weeks to use them.
Head of vaccines deployment task force Willis Akhwale said they will try to administer them before expiry.
“So with these ones, and the capacity to even vaccinate 50,000 people per day, we believe in two to three weeks we will have used this particular consignment,” Dr Akhwale said.
The AHF scientists welcomed the recent G7 commitment to donating 870 million doses to Covax facility.
“Covax was well-intentioned, but with wealthy countries buying up enough vaccines to inoculate their citizens as much as five times over, it’s clear that it’s too little, too late,” said Dr Penninah Lutung, the Africa bureau chief of AHF.
The scientists spoke at the ongoing call-to-action campaign by the foundation, through virtual media events in Nairobi, Bangkok, São Paulo, and Johannesburg.
They complained many rich countries continue to overbuy Covid-19 vaccine doses in advance.
In total, the 10 richest countries own about 80 per cent of all Covid vaccines and that only 0.3 per cent of vaccines currently end up in low-income countries.
A recent report published in the British Medical Journal estimates that the US has secured 800 million doses of more than six vaccines in development, and it could buy one billion more. The UK has bought 340 million doses, about five times more for every citizen.
Canada has ordered 381 million doses, which means every Canadian could be vaccinated five times over with the two doses needed.
“It’s time that heads of government, global public health organisations, and pharmaceutical companies do all that’s necessary to ‘Vaccinate Our World’ now,” Lutung said.
The goal of the World Health Organization is to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the world’s population within a year. Eleven billion vaccines are needed to achieve that goal.
In order to vaccinate the populations of poorer countries quickly enough, barely $38 billion (Sh4.1 trillion) is needed this year, according to the WHO.
(edited by o. owino)