As the world’s richest countries ease coronavirus restrictions and prepare for a return to pre-pandemic life, Africa is in the grip of a rapidly escalating third wave.
Across the continent, hospital beds are filling up and oxygen supplies are dwindling. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and Uganda are reporting record case increases, while South Africa and Zambia are also hard hit.
Never have the calls to end vaccine hoarding by the developed world seemed so poignant. While the U.S. and the U.K. have fully inoculated about 45% of their people and the European Union about a quarter, just 0.8% of Africa’s 1.1 billion inhabitants have received two doses.
Few African nations have had the financial or organizational ability to negotiate their own supply deals with pharmaceutical companies. And Covax, the vaccine-sharing initiative, has been slow to deliver and is hamstrung by India’s reluctance to allow exports during its own crisis.
The U.S. and the U.K. have joined China in making announcements about vaccine donations, but those shots won’t arrive for months. By then, tens of thousands of Africans, if not more, will be dead and restrictions on gatherings and school closures will have set the continental economy back even further.
This “causes us to reflect deeply and ask ourselves existential questions on the meanings of multilateralism, of the meanings of humanity,” Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said in a recent interview. “What do these concepts now mean in the face of Covid-19?”
Source : Bloomberg