Friday, May 13 2022

As the United States and other wealthy countries in the North begin administering booster vaccinations against COVID-19, only 8.5% of African adults have received a dose of the vaccine. Immediate and sustained action is needed both to close the immunization gap and to reverse a dangerous global divide in health care.

JOHANNESBURG/LONDON – Over the past 30 years, everyone has assumed that developed and developing economies are converging, with higher growth rates in Africa and elsewhere helping these countries catch up. But African economies are now growth only half the average global rate. Divergence becomes the new order of the day. And with growing fiscal pressures, rising debt, rising inflation, rising interest rates and supply chain disruptions creating new barriers to growth, it is almost certain to worsen in 2022.

This outcome is not inevitable, but the only way to reverse it is to extend the benefits of vaccination and other medical protections from North to South. At the time of this writing, only 8.5% of African adults received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. From 6.9 billion doses which had been administered globally as of mid-October 2021, only 176 million (only 2.5%) were in Africa. Less than 1% of the population of a dozen African countries has been vaccinated, and the rate for the whole continent is just 5%compared to 62% in high-income countries.

Worse still, the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) predicts that there will be 200 million additional COVID-19 cases in the coming year, three-quarters of them in income countries. low or intermediate. Without vaccination, these infections could cause an additional five million deaths next year (exceeding the 4.9 million recorded deaths from the virus so far). Africa could become the long-term epicenter of the pandemic.

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