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    Global South Calls for Mobilization of COVID-19 Vaccines

    Some countries might achieve widespread immunisation by 2024, some might not achieve it at all.

    22 Feb 2021

    Rabat – As the world grapples with COVID-19, obstacles sow conflict and illuminate the contradictions in global diplomacy. While rich nations hoard anti-COVID-19 vaccines, officials from the global South countries are calling into question the status quo.

    “While Rome is burning, we are fiddling around,” said Mustaqeem De Gama, South Africa’s delegate at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on intellectual property rights.

    De Gama is referring to the much-reported –and widely decried — fact that high-income countries are consistently purchasing more vaccines than they need, leaving many poorer nations unable to acquire the bare minimum to inoculate their in-need citizens.

    Of all premarket purchase commitments totaling 7.48 billion doses, 51% will go to high-income countries, which represent 14% of the world’s population, according to a recent study.

    Meanwhile, US officials say that the Biden administration will not share vaccines with struggling countries until most Americans are vaccinated.

    “This huge vaccine excess is the embodiment of vaccine nationalism, with countries prioritising their own vaccination needs at the expense of other countries and the global recovery,”said one, a global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty.

    Earlier this month, India and South Africa jointly proposed to the WTO a temporary suspension of intellectual property rules related to COVID-19 vaccines. They argued that such a move would make it easier for developing countries to produce their own vaccines.

    However, the US, the United Kingdom, and the European Union acted to block the proposal. They in turn claimed following the proposal by India and South Africa would stifle innovation at pharmaceutical companies.

    “The first effective vaccines were ready four or five months ago. Do you think it would have made a difference if we had the capacity to manufacture? I certainly think so,” said De Gama.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has denounced the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. According to the UN chief, a handful of countries are blindly and inconsiderately following their narrow interests at the expense of the global community.


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