December 4, 2020

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Ramaphosa calls for equal distribution of anticipated COVID-19 vaccine

2 min read

President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked world leaders participating in the global G20 summit to ensure that the eagerly awaited COVID-19 vaccine is distributed to all countries when it is ready, and said that the response to the catastrophic pandemic needs to be inclusive of the planet’s most direly impoverished as well as it’s privileged. 

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech became the first companies to seek emergency authorisation for a coronavirus vaccine in the United States (US) on Friday 20 November in an unprecedented move that suggests that a desperately needed aid is soon to become available.

‘Equitable and affordable access is imperative’ – Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa addressed his global counterparts on Saturday, pleading with them to use their substantial influence to make sure that African countries aren’t left behind when a completed vaccine is rolled out. 

“Another immediate task is to ensure that there is equitable and affordable access for all countries to the COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed,” he said. 

“I would like to call upon the G20 countries to assist with the funding shortfalls for the access to COVID-19 tools accelerator to ensure that this platform is able to deliver on its mandate.”

‘World leaders must act in solidarity with one another’

Ramaphosa said that amidst the upheaval caused by COVID-19 in 2020, and opportunity has presented itself for nations of the world to join forces and endeavour to embark on a prosperous new era of social and economic reform. 

“We have an opportunity now to drive global economic reforms,” he said. “This, would include the WTO reform to address imbalances, global trade tools, measures to accelerate industrialisation in developing countries, and combatting the practice of under invoicing which is harming emerging market economies.”

“Let us all continue to work together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation to ensure that the global recovery is inclusive.” 

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation’s leader of African response to the coronavirus told Doha Debates that “African countries should get ready” to distribute the COVID vaccine.

He said that from past experiences, Africa is generally at the back of the queue when the benefits of new technology become available. Moeti said it sometimes “takes a decade for a new technology to be available in Africa”.