Sunday, December 5, 2021

United States vaccine donation welcome, but too little and too late for Africa

Early this week the President of the United States Joe Biden announced that his government will donate 80 million doses of covid 19 vaccines to the world where there is a need.

America has more vaccine than is needed to vaccinate all its citizens.

The 80 million doses are indeed welcome. And will prove very handy for Africa where for many countries the vaccine rollout has since run out of road because there are no vaccines.

It is important to put the donation into context.

African continent has over a billion people.

And its share of the donation is 5 million doses. The rest will be spread to Asia, South and Central America and others.

And the need across the continent is vast.

It is not clear how the African Union which will receive the donation will distribute the doses.

It is clear that it will be some time before many African countries can even start programs to rollout the vaccine.

In the meantime, Africans are dying at growing speed.

Even with the best intensions, records keeping in Africa is always a problem.

But on covid, intensions are not always good.

In Africa unlike in other parts of the world, all data, all information and all records on deaths are a purview of governments.

Releasing such information is exclusively a decision of government.

And even though the data is of public interest citizens are at the mercy of their governments.

Thus, while many people are dying from covid across the continent, information and statistics remain sketchy. And where it exists it is doctored and exceedingly conservative.

Vaccines provide a clear way out of the morass that covid 19 has been to the world.

In fact, countries that have managed the vaccine rollout programs well are already leading the world in the emergence out of covid.

These countries are led by the United Kingdom, but also the United States.

Mandates are slowly being lifted.

And this means a return to normality.

There is travel and tourism, which is pertinent for the global economic recovery.

Travel and tourism cannot open without sufficient people being vaccinated.

Africa relies heavily on travel and tourism.

In Botswana for example, the national budget draws substantially from tourism.

And it would be foolhardy to think that tourism could recover without vaccines.

Africa needs to do more to find vaccines.

Betting on donations alone cannot be the solution.

It is clear that the West are not in a hurry to save Africans from dying of covid.

The African Union should increase efforts to help poorer African countries.

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