‘Don’t leave Africa behind’ urges Cyril Ramaphosa at WHO Covid-19 vaccine meeting

By Reuters Time of article published1h ago

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At a meeting of a WHO initiative aimed at speeding up the development and equal distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, South Africa’s president urges that his continent not be left behind. David Doyle reports.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged that Africa not be “left behind” when a coronavirus vaccine is developed.

Speaking at the first council meeting of a World Health Organization initiative aimed at speeding up the development, production and equal distribution of a vaccine, Ramaphosa said the world would not be able to achieve universal health coverage if a Covid-19 vaccine is only available to well-resourced nations.

“We therefore need to move swiftly to ensure that everyone has access to the vaccine once it is developed, at the same time.”

Ramaphosa co-chairs the facilitation council for the WHO’s initiative, called ACT-Accelerator but financial support for the program has lagged as governments including the European Union, Japan and the United States pursue bilateral deals that some fear will leave poorer nations at the back of the queue for a vaccine.

At Thursday’s online event, Rwandan President Paul Kagame reiterated Ramaphosa’s request.

“We can ensure that vaccine distribution is fair and equitable. This will, in turn, support the resumption of economic activity which benefits us all.”

The event was attended by, among other, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

He said some $3 billion had been contributed to the accelerator program so far – which he described as seed funding, before urging the international community to contribute another $35 billion including $15 billion over the next three months.

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