Gordon Brown Urges Wealthy Nations 'to End Their Stranglehold' on Vaccine Deliveries to Africa
14:07 GMT 16.08.2021 (Updated: 15:15 GMT 28.05.2023)
In late May, the World Health Organisation called for another 20 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed to African nations in the next six weeks, stressing that "Africa needs vaccines now".
Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has accused the EU of taking a "neocolonial approach" to the supply of coronavirus vaccines, demanding that developed nations should "end their stranglehold" on vaccine deliveries.
In an opinion piece for The Guardian
, Brown called on US President Joe Biden
, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi to convene a special summit in order to deal with Africa's COVID vaccine deficit.
The ex-British prime minister wrote it was "shocking" that about 10 million single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines produced at a South African factory will be exported to Europe "at the very time that Africa is grappling with its deadliest wave of COVID-19 infections yet".
"Compared to the swift development of the pathbreaking COVID vaccines
, getting shots into all the world's arms should be straightforward. But vaccine nationalism – and Europe's neocolonial approach to global health – is dividing the world into rich and protected people, who live, and those who are poor, unprotected and at risk of dying", Brown pointed out.
WHO's Grim Forecast for Africa
He pointed to the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s
recent prediction that at least 47 of Africa's 54 countries may miss "even the very modest September target of vaccinating 10% of their citizens".
"At these current rates there is no hope of Africa achieving the West's vaccination levels this year or next", which is why "African leaders speak of 'vaccine apartheid'", according to the former PM.
Brown recalled that the US has an option to purchase 1.96 billion additional doses, the European Commission has access to 1 billion extra shots, and Canada has secured 191 million.
He noted that with 50% of the adult population in Europe, the US, and the UK already fully vaccinated, the figure for Africa stands at merely 1.8%, "well behind India, which has only vaccinated 8% of its population".
The remarks come several months after French President Emmanuel Macron
said that Paris would deliver 30 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from its own supply to Africa by the end of the year, while Germany will supply 30 million more and the rest of the European Union - another 40 million.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, for his part, emphasised that "as supplies dry up, dose-sharing is an urgent, critical, and short-term solution to ensuring that Africans at the greatest risk of COVID-19 get the much-needed protection".
"Africa needs vaccines now. Any pause in our vaccination campaigns will lead to lost lives and lost hope", he added.