World Why is Africa's vaccination necessary for rich countries?

Why is Africa’s vaccination necessary for rich countries?

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648x415 file attente afrique sud faire vacciner illustration

Queue in South Africa to get vaccinated, illustration – Shiraaz Mohamed / AP / SIPA

  • Since the arrival of vaccines against the coronavirus, the world has been summarily divided into two parts: the rich countries, which vaccinate en masse, and the poor countries, which are unable to obtain the precious doses.
  • But rich countries are increasingly agitated to facilitate access to vaccination for poor countries.
  • A hand extended far from being disinterested.

Things are picking up steam on coronavirus vaccination aid in Africa. This Friday, the European Union announced that it would double its contribution to the Covax system. This device aims to provide anti-Covid vaccines this year to 20% of the population of nearly 200 countries and territories, but above all it includes a financing mechanism that allows 92 poor countries to have access to precious doses, until there inaccessible to them. Following the same principle, Emmanuel Macron proposed this Thursday that rich countries transfer 3 to 5% of their vaccine doses to Africa in order to accelerate vaccination there. The continent, more affected by the second wave than the first, suffers from a significant delay. On January 31, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres indicated on Twitter that of the 70 million people vaccinated against Covid-19 worldwide, less than 20,000 were Africans, or 0.028% of those vaccinated for 17% of the population. global.

European intentions are not philanthropic. The vaccination of Africa – and of the whole world – is “an absolute necessity for the rich countries and for their own protection”, slices the doctor Jérôme Marty, president of the Syndicat Union Française pour une Médecine libre. He explains: “The principle of a pandemic is that it is global. To completely stem it, the whole world must be vaccinated, not just the rich countries. Otherwise, the coronavirus will end up returning to their territory ”, a simple principle of globalization and its population movements.

Risks for rich countries

And it would be wrong to think that there would be nothing to fear from a return of the coronavirus in countries that are mainly vaccinated. Hélène Rossinot, doctor specializing in public health, sees two major risks. First, the duration of immunity offered by the vaccine is not yet known. Nothing says that in a few years, people vaccinated will still be immune to the virus. Second, “the more the virus circulates, the more it is at risk of mutating, and certain variants could make vaccines less effective”.

If the British variant does not seem to present this risk during this stay, a study published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” and bringing together scientists from Pfizer, its German partner BioNTech and the University of Texas (UTMB), suggests that the South African variant could reduce the protection of the Pfizer vaccine. However, “with a more massive and longer circulation in Africa, other variants could appear and have the same resistance”, worries the specialist.

A potentially deadly vaccine nationalism

For Jérôme Marty, who shares these two fears, this is proof that vaccination “must be coordinated and take place at the same time in all countries of the world, before the virus adapts”. However, for the moment, we are far from it. 65% of doses are administered in high-income countries, according to World Bank figures, including 45% of injections carried out in the G7 countries, which however only host 10% of the world’s population, while more than 100 countries in the world had still not started any vaccination campaign at the beginning of the month. The doctor regrets that the rich countries have arrogated the major part of the vaccines, blocking the access to the poor countries because of an increase in prices as well as doses. “Currently, the world is cut in two, between rich countries and poor countries, and neither one nor the other has an interest in this two-speed vaccination”, deplores Jérôme Marty.

The World Health Organization also continues to advocate for global vaccination. As early as October, its director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned: “The best way to use the vaccine is to vaccinate certain people in all countries rather than all people in certain countries. Vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, it will not shorten it. “

What about humanism in all of this?

So much for the interests of rich countries. Not to mention questions of moral duty, as Jérôme Marty evokes: “In theory, we could close the borders hermetically forever, withdraw definitively into ourselves, and put on a veil and look modestly elsewhere. But that would mean letting a part of humanity die without doing anything when we can help them. At the moment, even with the Covax device and another device put in place by the African Union, only 30% of the continent’s population is expected to be vaccinated by the end of the year. Far, very far, from being sufficient to give collective immunity – the threshold being between 60 and 70% of vaccination, and again, the variants will perhaps increase it.

Hélène Rossinot concluded: “It is a question of solidarity and justice to be able, as a rich country, to support poorer countries in their fight against the Covid. This pandemic has taken a lot of things from us, let it not take away our humanity. “

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