INTERNATIONAL Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has slammed richer countries for vaccine hoarding, saying the spread of the Covid-19 virus globally would have been halted had they not purchased more doses than they needed.
Pandor made the statement just as the South African government has donated over two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, worth R288.6 million, to African countries through the agreement between the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) and the African Vaccination Acquisition Trust (AVAT).
Pandor said that while serving as Chair of the African Union, South Africa had initiated a coordinated African response that focused on addressing immediate challenges to public health systems and mitigating the economic and humanitarian crisis arising from the pandemic.
Pandor also said this included establishing a Covid-19 Response Fund and launching the African Medical Supplies Platform to ensure all countries had access to the necessary equipment and supplies.
The donation is part of securing the necessary vaccines and financing resources for achieving Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy, which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60 percent of the continent’s population.
However, Pandor was more scathing of the attitude of the world’s more well- off countries in hoarding vaccines by buying more than they actually need.
“Lo and behold, when the first vaccine became available, we realised that countries had ordered more than three times the number of vaccines that they would for their populations, and they began to really practice denial of equitable access to the world, not just to Africa, even amongst themselves as neighbours in Europe and elsewhere.
“We really need a much more multi-lateral approach to the resolution of problems that are common to the entire world. I think we would’ve gone a long way towards preventing the emergence of new variants and continuing episodes of the virus had there been an attachment and practical action on the concept of the global public good. So I think that the world now, I hope, has learnt a lesson,” Pandor said.