Zimbabwe’s richest man Strive Masiyiwa this week made a compelling argument for the rich countries of the world to release coronavirus vaccines to Africa but the Africa Union special envoy seemed to be focussing only on vaccines from the West though vaccines from countries like China and Russia are also available and have been approved by the World Health Organisation.
The only non-Western country he said he had approached for vaccines was India but it did not have the capacity as its population alone is the size of that of Africa.
India is second the worst affected country in the world, after the United States, and has recorded more than 30 million cases and nearly 395 000 deaths.
It has so far vaccinated 22% of the population but only 3.8% are fully vaccinated.
Masiyiwa, however, did not seem to have approached China or Russia despite being told bluntly by the West that there was nothing for Africa until probably next year.
He admitted that the situation was so pathetic that he and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had literally to arm-twist Johnson and Johnson, one of the US manufacturers, to produce the vaccine in South Africa for South Africans otherwise it would have manufactured the vaccines in South Africa and shipped them out.
Ironically, despite this clear evidence that the West was not willing to bail out Africa, Masiyiwa appealed to the United States to take the lead in providing vaccines to Africa.
Despite being the regional powerhouse in Southern Africa, South Africa currently has a lower vaccination rate than Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.
According to the New York Times vaccination tracker, South Africa had vaccinated 4.4% of its population by yesterday but only 0.8% were fully vaccinated.
Angola had vaccinated 4.5% with 1.6% fully vaccinated.
Namibia had vaccinated 5.3% but only 0.9% had been fully vaccinated.
Zimbabwe was at 8% with 3.1% fully vaccinated while Botswana led with 8.7% but only2.1% had been fully vaccinated.
Zimbabwe is not currently using any Western vaccines and is relying mostly on vaccines from China but has received donations from India and Russia.
Some South Africans are flocking to Zimbabwe where they can get vaccinated for about US$100.
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