Why does South Africa pay twice as much for vaccines as European countries? Why has Africa – home to 1.3bn people – been allocated just 300m doses?
Last year, European and North American countries managed to ignore warnings of a highly contagious pandemic – dragging their feet in setting protocols in place, delaying mandatory mask-wearing, and giving mostly miserly handouts to the millions struggling to survive in lockdown. Though the virus originated in China, not the west, western countries imagined that the virus would not touch them in quite the same way: Europe and the US entertained the fantasy that they alone were the captains of a more sophisticated political and bureaucratic system that could not only withstand a global pandemic but also remain largely immune to its threats. This year, these same countries have managed to outdo themselves by vacating their role on the international stage – hoarding vaccines and practicing only the most expedient, shallow pretenses of vaccine diplomacy. The wealthiest western nations have wiped their hands clean of any responsibility to slow a pandemic they helped magnify and spread.
Rich countries with 14% of the world’s population have secured 53% of the best vaccines. Almost all of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines will go to rich countries. The Moderna vaccine will go to rich countries exclusively; it is not even being offered to the poor. In fact, nine out of 10 people in poor countries may never be vaccinated at all. Washington is sitting on vaccines, making sure no one gets any while the US needs them. The European Union has exported 34m doses to, of all places, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong – countries that have no problem sourcing or paying for vaccines. In fact, the EU sent about 9m doses to the UK, a country which, no longer in the EU, also has what amounts in practice to an export ban of its own, official denials notwithstanding.
Read the original article at The Guardian