President Cyril Ramaphosa as of late cautioned against immunization patriotism, where rich nations crowd COVID-19 antibodies for their own residents and inconvenience helpless nations.
Talking at the World Economic Forum’s computerized Davos gathering, Ramaphosa said he is “profoundly worried about the issue of immunization patriotism, which, except if tended to, will jeopardize the recuperation, all things considered”.
He said rich nations procured enormous dosages of the antibody from engineers and producers, now and again up to multiple times what their populace needs.
President Cyril Ramaphosa
“There is no requirement for a country which has 40 million individuals to gain 160 million dosages when the world need admittance to those antibodies,” he said.
The president encouraged well off nations to deliver the overabundance antibodies that they have requested and are storing.
“Finishing the pandemic worldwide will require more noteworthy cooperation on the rollout of antibodies, guaranteeing that no nation is given up in this exertion,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s view repeated analysis from People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coordinated effort between help bunches including Oxfam and Amnesty International.
The collusion said more well off countries have purchased up enough portions to inoculate their whole populaces almost multiple times over before the finish of 2021 if those right now in clinical preliminaries are totally affirmed for use.
“Refreshed information shows that rich countries addressing only 14 percent of the total populace have purchased up 53 percent of the multitude of most encouraging immunizations up until this point,” the People’s Vaccine Alliance said.
70 of the most unfortunate nations, in the examination, might have the option to inoculate one of every ten individuals against COVID-19 this year.
What you are not told
At face value, Ramaphosa’s attack against countries that ordered more vaccines than what they need seems fair and even noble.
There is, however, far more to the vaccine acquisition process than what Ramaphosa or the People’s Vaccine Alliance are willing to say.
Speaking to Michael Avery on BusinessTech’s Business Talk, Sygnia founder and CEO Magda Wierzycka explained in June 2020, when the issue of vaccines came to the fore, there was not a single COVID-19 vaccine and there were no vaccines in development.
Wierzycka said in mid-2020 pharmaceutical giants and companies which specialize in vaccine developments only started to look at their own methodologies to create vaccines to see if they can amend them to create a COVID-19 vaccine.
It is, however, very expensive to develop and test vaccines, and this is where rich countries like the UK, the European Union, and the United States stepped up to fund these developments.
They did not know which of the vaccine developments, if any, would be successful, and they subsequently funded numerous companies on a pre-order risk basis.
The rich countries, therefore, gave numerous vaccine developers money with the agreement that if they are successful, they will receive the vaccine first to vaccinate their citizens.
Developing countries do not have money to take big risks and they could therefore not fund the development of COVID-19 vaccines through pre-orders.
The good news is that many of the vaccine developers who were funded successfully produced vaccines, including AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna.
Because rich countries helped to fund all these companies to develop vaccines, they now have pre-ordered and pre-stocked vaccines from all these providers.
It may now appear that they are hoarding vaccines because of their existing pre-orders, but this is merely a result of the funding and negotiations which took place months ago.
Instead of painting rich countries as vaccine hoarders, they should be commended for generously funding vaccine developments even though there was no guarantee of success.
This funding made the development of COVID-19 vaccines possible, from which the rest of the world can now benefit.
It is every man for himself
Commenting on South Africa’s challenge to secure enough vaccine doses for its whole population, Wierzycka said this is not surprising.
She said because the pandemic is affecting every country the same, it was always going to be “every man for himself”.
“No-one is going to stand as a collective. This is what we are seeing,” Wierzycka said.
South Africa was slow to start negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to secure COVID-19 vaccines.
The Treasury revealed that the Department of Health only requested deviation procurement processes on 6 January 2021 to start negotiation with four large vaccine producers.
This means South Africa’s struggle to secure vaccines is not a result of “vaccine nationalism”, but rather its lack of action when it was needed months ago.
News24 reported that Pfizer even attempted to contact South African health officials to offer them vaccines, but the health officials were allegedly “non-responsive”.
For Ramaphosa to now blame wealthy countries, which funded the development of vaccines, for hoarding vaccines and hurting poorer nations is disingenuous.
It would be far more productive to focus on procuring vaccines from multiple companies, especially those which hold the most promise protecting against the new COVID-19 variants.
Ramaphosa should also acknowledge that his government has bungled the process and involve the private sector to secure and roll out vaccines.
The good news is that it is not too late. Wierzycka said there is still the opportunity for South Africa to enter into quid-pro-quo negotiations with vaccine developers.
“We are late to the ordering game for existing vaccines, but it is not impossible to order the existing vaccines. It can even be done at reasonable pricing,” she said.
Wierzycka highlighted that South Africa has a great scientific community and is often used for clinical trials for new vaccines. This can be used to our advantage.