Kenya has petitioned the UN Security Council to urge wealthy countries not to hoard surplus Covid-19 vaccine supplies, adding its voice to calls for global production to be shared more equally.
Africa is struggling to secure sufficient vaccines to start countrywide inoculation programmes for its 1.3 billion people while richer countries have surplus doses that ran into the hundreds of millions.
Kenya through Foreign Affairs cabinet secretary Raychelle Omamo, made the plea at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, warning some nations could fall behind in the race to vaccinate their citizens and mitigate the pandemic if the vaccines remain elusive and costly due to hoarding.
“I salute the immense efforts made by the international community in the development of Covid-19 vaccines. However, this optimism is threatened by significant realities which perpetuate inequality and exclusion in our world,” Ms Omamo said before the council on Wednesday, of which Kenya is currently a member.
“These include, the prohibitive cost of vaccines, limited vaccine supplies and manufacturing deficiencies, increased export restrictions on vaccines and their ingredients, the emergence of viral mutations and the erosion of global solidarity through the hoarding of vaccines, together with vaccine nationalism and opaque bilateral vaccine deals.”
The African Union this month secured 270 million shots for the continent.
Those doses are expected to become available this year but few have arrived yet, while parts of Europe, Asia and the Americas are well into their vaccination programmes.
Ms Omamo said companies need to share intellectual property (IP), technologies, data and know-how, so that the vaccines can be produced as widely as possible, and priced affordably.
“To further facilitate equitable and timely access to vaccines, which we view as a global public good, there is an urgent need to democratise and scale up local production and manufacturing capability, especially on the African continent ,” said Ms Omamo.