Is Africa Getting Vaccinated?

Countries in Africa are falling behind on obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine while countries with richer economies are stockpiling vaccines. According to usatoday, over 13 million people in the U.S alone have already received the vaccine, while in Africa, with a population of nearly four times that of the US, only a little over 500,000 people total have received the vaccine.
The factors behind Africa’s lack of vaccines are primarily lack of money and funding. According to CNN, South Africa purchased the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India at $5.25 per dose due to high global demand and lack of a cheaper option. Although this is heavily discounted compared to what other wealthier countries are paying, experts fear that this itself is too expensive. Some of these countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe are already struggling to manage the economic fallout of the pandemic and now they might have to borrow more money to get the vaccine. Tim Jones, head of Jubilee Debt Campaign, a British charity working to end poverty in the United Kingdom said, “No country should have to take on debt to pay for the vaccine.” On top of this, Africa is facing one of the worst COVID-19 surges in the world, with a 40% increase in deaths since January 1st.
Africa hopes to have 60% of the continent’s population vaccinated within the next two to three years through a combination of Serum, Pfizier, and J&J vaccines. One organization helping with this is COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access), a group launched by the World Health Organization in April to distribute vaccines to all parts of the world, regardless of whether or not the country has the ability to pay for the vaccines. COVAX hopes to distribute over 2 billion vaccines to participating developing countries by the end of this year, with over 522 million doses distributed in the first stage, which is happening through February and early March. Dr. Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, wrote, “For lower-income funded nations, who would otherwise be unable to afford these vaccines, as well as a number of higher-income self-financing countries that have no bilateral deals with manufacturers, COVAX is quite literally a lifeline and the only viable way in which their citizens will get access to COVID-19 vaccines.”