Gaborone – Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi has become the latest Southern African leader to decry the uneven distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Namibian President Hage Geingob and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa have both previously described the hoarding of the inoculants by rich countries at the expense of developing nations as “vaccine apartheid”.
This week, President Masisi’s Press Secretary, Mr Batlhalefi Leagajang said Botswana’s Head of State and Government told United States Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland that this state of affairs was untenable.
“President Masisi expressed frustration with vaccine distribution which he said has resulted in loss of lives. He said Botswana has put many development projects on hold and channeled money towards the fight against COVID 19 which includes payment of vaccines,” said Mr Leagajang.
Last week, during tours of vaccination centres, President Masisi accused some of the vaccine schemes and manufacturers that had promised to distribute inoculants to African countries of having cheated them. President Masisi said in some instances, vaccines were distributed in piecemeal fashion while rich countries stockpiled quantities far exceeding their needs.
Special Envoy for the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), Zimbabwean businessman Mr Strive Masiyiwa has also come out strongly against vaccine apartheid.
“The fact of the matter is the EU has vaccine factories. It has vaccine production centers across Europe. Not a single dose, not one vial has left a European factory for Africa. OK, when we’ve gone to talk to their manufacturers, they tell us that they are completely maxed out, meeting the needs of Europe. We are referred to India, where a number of manufacturers exist that are manufacturing vaccines like the AstraZeneca vaccine under license because Europe has to decide, you know, you can’t say you support us,” Mr Masiyiwa has said.
About 1.5 percent of Africa’s billion-plus populace has been vaccinated, while several rich countries are approaching or have surpassed the herd immunity threshold of 60 percent.