By Robert Tapfumaneyi
SOUTH AFRICAN Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says Africa has a risk of remaining with the least vaccinated population but carrying the highest burden of the coronavirus infections.
Mkhize said this following pronouncements by the US and the European Union that Covid-19 vaccines should not be exported until the needs of their people have been catered for.
He was speaking during a SAPES Trust virtual online dialogue Thursday night under the topic, The Covid-19 Pandemic: Towards a Regional (SADC) Strategy To Combat It.
The South African Health Minister said just about a billion vaccines have been raised for Africa, which is third of the available to the rest of the continent.
“This is where then the challenge arises because that 20 percent initially and 27 percent at this point is not adequate to create what is called the head immunity,” he told online viewers.
“We need a vaccination of about 780 million people. All have to be vaccinated, otherwise that means that we will end up being the continent that is seen as the source of Covid when we were in fact the recipient of the spiral over that came from different parts of the world.
“What we have also seen as a challenge is the fact that there has already been a pronouncement to the fact that no one can travel to the various countries unless they are already vaccinated.
“Now at that point, we note that as well that the hoarding of the vaccine is the huge issue. America can’t export to any other countries until the American needs have been sorted.”
Mkhize added, “Then in the European Union, they also ordered two or three times more than what their population requirements.
“Even there they have started making call that there should not be any exports of the vaccines whilst they have not fulfilled all the orders and the requirements in the European Union.
“So, this basically means that once again Africa has got a risk of remaining behind is being the one which has got the least vaccinated but carrying the highest burden of the infection.”