Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, has faulted the “hypocrisy and double standards” in the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
President Kagame made the comments in a tweet after the World Health Organization (WHO) director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said deals between rich nations and vaccine manufacturers had made it hard to acquire vaccines for its Covax initiative.
The Covax is an initiative to ensure equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine across all countries.
Wealthy nations have been accused of hoarding vaccines making it hard for poor ones to access any.
A coalition of campaign groups, People’s Vaccine Alliance, warned in December that nearly 70 lower-income countries will only be able to vaccinate one in 10 people.
It called on all pharmaceutical corporations working on COVID-19 vaccines to openly share their technology and intellectual property so that billions more doses can be manufactured and made available to everyone who needs them.
Africa has now recorded over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths and there is growing concern over delays in rolling out vaccination programmes.
Some countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ghana have received vaccines, but many others will have to wait until later in the year for stocks to arrive.
There has been global competition to get hold of vaccines, and African countries have generally not been as successful as richer countries in securing supplies.
“It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk groups in rich countries are made safe,” says Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa.
France President Emmanuel Macron has proposed that rich countries in Europe and the US share their vaccines with Africa.
He says he wants some doses made available quickly for African countries.
The ones which have so far got vaccines have largely done so through direct purchases from manufacturers, or as donations from countries such as China, Russia, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
African countries have been hoping to get vaccines through international and regional schemes.
The principal one is the global Covax initiative, in which countries pool their resources to support the development of effective vaccines with a view to ensuring that everyone gets a fair supply.
The first vaccines distributed under the Covax programme have now arrived in Ghana. -BBC