President Muhammadu Buhari has warned world leaders, once again, that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a global concern if vaccines are not equitably distributed.
In his keynote address at the Paris Peace Forum on Thursday, November 11, 2021, the 78-year-old said rich countries have an abundance of vaccines, while poor countries, especially in Africa, are left to suffer.
He further cited a report by Bloomberg that shows countries with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated 10 times faster than those with the lowest incomes.
60% of the European Union population had been fully vaccinated by September, compared to only 6% in Africa as of last week, the Nigerian leader noted.
“This massive gap between vaccine requirements in Africa and vaccine availability is undermining the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic on the continent.
“Even if Africa were to receive the 600 million doses of vaccine expected to be delivered to the continent by the end of 2021 under the COVAX arrangement there would still be a considerable shortfall when compared to the population of the continent which currently stands at 1.383 billion,” he said.
Just over 3.1 million people have been fully vaccinated since Nigeria started its vaccination campaign in March.
Buhari cautioned that the gap needs to be immediately plugged if Africa is to achieve its target of vaccinating 70% of its population by September 2022.
He said countries that are needlessly hoarding vaccines need to rethink their position, further advocating for resolution of supply chain issues that have frustrated manufacturing.
The president said there is a clear need for the expansion of vaccine production capacity in Africa.