By Onche Odeh
Renowned Nigerian Professor of virology, Oyewale Tomori has stressed the need for Africa to use the advent of vaccine protection for COVID-19 to create an environment for science to thrive across the continent. That way, according the virologist who was at the backend of Nigeria’s Polio eradication success, Africa would be able to debunk some of the inherent diplomatic obstacles to the availability of the vaccine in the region.
He said African governments must also find a way of engaging the community and the people in efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, expressing optimism in the ability of man to effectively immobilize the virus and stop the disease.
In a piece he made available to AfricaSTI, Tomori stated that, “There is a need for Africa to enhance science to debunk diplomacy, as well as strengthen science to balance diplomacy.”
According to him, “Not enabling a science thriving environment triply debunks our (Africa’s) diplomacy, our health, and our security.”
“For man, the most important component of COVID-19 spread facilitates the mobility of SARS-Cov-2 virus, the inert, immobile protein minuscule. Same man can immobilise COVID-19 virus and disease. So, governments, pay attention to your people. Help them stop COVID-19 disease in its track.”
Tomori’s avowal is hinged on the disproportionate acquisition of the vaccines across the world that has led to Africa grappling for quantities that may not cover the population.
COVAX, the Gavi-led financing mechanism to provide COVID-19 vaccines to low-income and middle-income countries, plans to make two billion doses of the vaccine available by the end of 2021. Already, 97 high-income countries have signed up to the initiative, whereas 92 low-income and middle-income countries, including most African countries are to be supported by the plan. COVAX aims to secure enough doses of any vaccine to provide protection to an initial 20% of people in signatory countries. But there are worries, especially for Africa.
Tomori captures the concerns thus: “At the COVAX COVID-19 Vaccine non-binding diplomatic discourse, Africa is left with non-binding promise Of COVAX vaccine crumbs that is only enough to vaccinate one in every five Africans.
“Canada, bought five times more than the doses needed for each of her people, UK paid for four times more doses per person, EU purchased doses twice the population.
“And while they continue to buy more and more, Aluta must continua Africa, not knowing if through the NBA (Non-Binding Agreement) at least vulnerable frontline healthcare workers will get sufficient CCCV– Covax Covid19 Vaccine Crumbs.”