Amref Health Africa is proud to be the newest member of the People’s Vaccine, an international alliance of health and humanitarian organisations, world leaders past and present, health experts, faith leaders, and economists, united by the belief that a COVID-19 vaccine should be available for all, free of charge, as a global common good.
The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine is the most ambitious global vaccination campaign in history: yet it is strikingly uneven. Some affluent countries – the UK and the USA among them – are already in a position to vaccinate lower-risk members of their populations. Yet their success comes at the expense of lower-income countries, where even the most high-risk people and groups – frontline health workers included – are unprotected. High-income countries, representing just 16% of the world’s population, have secured 60% of the leading vaccines: enough to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over. In contrast, it is estimated that only one person in ten on the African continent will be fully vaccinated before the year is out.
As an organisation founded on the principle that health is a human right, we believe this disparity is indefensible.
“We at Amref Health Africa [are calling for] the world to look at the pandemic as a global phenomenon that requires a global solution,” says Group CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi. “The world should work to ensure everyone, everywhere [is vaccinated]. In so doing, we believe that one of the critical steps to achieve this vaccine equity is a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for the manufacturers – who, by the way, have been heavily supported by people’s taxes in the countries that have led the vaccine development […] Until all of us are safe, none of us is safe.”
Simply put, there will not be an end to this pandemic until herd immunity can be achieved at a global level.
This requires the global community to come together and make an exception to the standard ways of working – putting people, rather than profit, first.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling for the COVID-19 vaccine to be made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge. This bold vision necessitates “a transformation in how vaccines are produced and distributed — pharmaceutical corporations must allow the COVID-19 vaccines to be produced as widely as possible by sharing their knowledge free from patents”. Read a detailed breakdown of the Alliance’s asks here.
“As Africa’s leading health NGO, we are proud to lend our voice to this truly international campaign that is shifting the conversation on vaccine equity,” says Camilla Knox-Peebles, Chief Executive of Amref Health Africa UK. “Ensuring that everyone is protected from COVID-19 – no matter who they are, or where in the world they live – is a critical step towards ending the pandemic and ensuring Universal Health Coverage.”