South Africa’s president has warned that millions of people in poorer countries may die waiting to be inoculated against Covid-19 as rich countries hoard jabs, and reaffirmed his support for a global patent waiver on vaccines.
In a weekly newsletter on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that vaccines should be “a global public good,” as he discussed the proposal to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines.
Ramaphosa said that more needed to be done in order to give people in poorer countries greater access to lifesaving Covid-19 jabs. “A situation in which the populations of advanced, rich countries are safely inoculated while millions in poorer countries die in the queue would be tantamount to vaccine apartheid,” he stated.
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The president described the proposal to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines as “affirming our commitment to the advancement of equality and human rights, not just in our own country but around the world.”
While the suggestion was originally made by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organization in October and garnered support from a number of developing countries, Washington only gave its backing last week.
The EU has also talked of its willingness to discuss the proposal, but European Council President Charles Michel said the patent waiver is “not a magic bullet.”
According to the World Health Organization, to date, Sub-Saharan Africa has only administered roughly eight Covid-19 doses per 1,000 people, while the global average is 150 doses per 1,000 people.
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