COVID-19 Vaccines and immunisation delays may set Africa back 5 years ─UNECA

*The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa says a lack of access to COVID-19 Vaccines that will keep barriers to travel and business in place will also slow trade and hamper investments, economic growth, and prevent creation of 26 million jobs in sub-Saharan Africa

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

A lack of access to vaccines that will keep barriers to travel and business in place is said to be a significant factor for slow trade and hamper investments in economies on the African continent.

The head of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has said a slow rollout of COVID-19 Vaccines and a lack of funding to bridge the gap between poor and rich countries of the world could set Africa back for two to five years.

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UNECA, in an interview Monday, April 26, said: “The fact that Africa isn’t going to get vaccinated as fast is going to clearly slow growth.”

Songwe noted that a lack of access to vaccines that will keep barriers to travel and business in place will also slow trade and hamper investments that could set back economic growth and prevent the creation of 26 million jobs, Bloomberg report stated.

Report indicates the world output is projected to expand at the fastest pace in at least four decades in 2021.

However, economic growth in sub-Saharan African, forecast at 3.4 percent is set to lag other regions, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates.

Executive Secretary of UNECA stated: “It’s extremely concerning if we’re not able to close the gaps that are created.”

Poorer countries will need to deploy $450 billion to rebuild over the next five years and accelerate their income convergence with advanced economies, according to the IMF.

While some African economies may have access to funds through the $650 billion in special drawing rights that the Washington-based lender is planning to give emerging and low-income nations to deal with COVID-19 and mounting debt, a failure to secure enough money could set the continent back, Songwe said.

Shorter patents

Meanwhile, data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention showed 15 million vaccine doses have been administered in Africa with an estimated population of about 1.3 billion people.

She noted in order to broaden access to inoculations and allow African countries to manufacture shots, the expiration dates for patent licences, especially for publicly funded vaccines, should be shorter.

Songwe added: “If only the developed countries vaccinate themselves, we will have new strains that develop in the developing countries, which will eventually make their way into the developed world and we will get another wave.

“This is truly a public good and we need to see how we can collectively work on it.”

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