Covid-19 pandemic cannot be brought under control without global vaccine equity – Kagame

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 31 October 2021 at 08:53

President Paul Kagame has pointed out three components that can be taken into consideration to achieve global vaccine equity, control COVID-19 pandemic and recover the economy.

Kagame was speaking at the G20 Summit held in Rome, the capital of Italy on Saturday 30th October 2021.

Kagame is among two African Heads of State invited to attend the summit. He is participating in-person along with his counterpart of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi who is also the current Chairperson of the African Union.

Kagame delivered his remarks as the Chairperson of African Union Development Agency (NEPAD).

“The Covid-19 pandemic cannot be brought under control without global vaccine equity, and this is also the precondition for economic recovery,” he said.

The President explained that Africans represent nearly 18% of the world’s people, but less than 5% of Covid vaccine doses have reached the continent.

To this end, the Head of State stated that closing the gap has three components requiring active commitment by the G20, as has already happened.

“First, we must ensure a consistent supply of vaccines for low-income countries to meet the target of 70% vaccination by mid-2022. After a slow start, Covax deliveries have picked up, thanks to increased pledges from different countries, among them the United States, the European Union, and its member states among others,” he noted.

“Second, national health systems need to be upgraded to efficiently handle mass vaccination. Third, we have to build manufacturing capacity for vaccines in developing countries,” added Kagame.

Commenting on measures to reduce the continent’s over reliance where 99% of its vaccines are imported, Kagame revealed that Africa targets to produce 60% of needed vaccines by 2040.

He explained that efforts to build local capacity are underway pointing out an example of recent milestone where Rwanda and Senegal concluded agreements with BioNTech to build end-to-end mRNA vaccine production facilities, starting in mid-2022.

The agreement will see technology and know-how transferred to build the capacity of local companies, and the doses produced will be distributed in Africa.

Kagame said that it is an important milestone in which the European Union and the African Union are also playing a key role.

“Finally, continued strengthening of the World Health Organization and Africa CDC is critical, along with support for the new African Medicines Agency,” he said.

Leaders attending the G20 Summit in a group photo.