COVID-19 vaccination should take place “in all countries and among all populations” to realize global containment of the pandemic, said Naledi Pandor, chairperson of the African Union (AU) Executive Council, on Wednesday.
Pandor, who is also Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, made the remarks during the opening session of the 38th ordinary session of the AU Executive Council that opened on Wednesday.
“The most important public health measure to prevent COVID-19 is a vaccine. For the past year, efforts have been underway to find vaccines that are both safe, affordable and effective,” Pandor told the virtual session of the AU Executive Council meeting, which gathered ministers of the 55-member pan-African bloc.
“We finally have achieved the goal, with a number of vaccines having undergone clinical trials and passed stringent safety tests. The production of the vaccine has begun in earnest,” she said.
Noting that “vaccines are costly,” Pandor, however, stressed that “all countries must get vaccines and must get them speedily. It is vital to the global containment of COVID-19 that vaccination takes place in all countries and among all populations.”
“We are all aware of the challenges of accessing vaccines for the Global South, particularly for Africa,” she added.
According to the South African minister, the developed North, which has substantial financial resources, has purchased the largest stocks, “while we in Africa are struggling to get our fair share.”
“The painful irony is that some of the clinical trials for these vaccines were carried out in Africa. In other cases, vaccines are packaged right here on the continent, yet we struggle to access them for our populations,” she added.
On Jan. 14, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of AU, announced that AU had secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses on behalf of its member states.
As the African continent strives to get adequate COVID-19 vaccine under the leadership of the bloc, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week called on Africa’s private sector to support the continental ambition in terms of securing adequate COVID-19 vaccine.