Chinese COVID-19 vaccines could fuel Sino-Africa ties, a Kenyan scholar said on Tuesday.
Cavince Adhere, an international relations expert on China-Africa relations, said in a commentary published in the Star newspaper that there are promising vaccine candidates from China that meet many of the aspirations of Africa in terms of cost, technology, storage and logistics capabilities.
“Beijing is also offshoring some of the vaccines manufacturing to Africa, which could expedite distribution to the region while also boosting job creation through industrial cooperation. It is these kinds of tangible and pragmatic cooperative arrangements that fuel Sino-Africa ties,” Adhere wrote.
He observed that while vaccination programs against COVID-19 are picking up steam across Europe and North America, fears are mounting that in Africa that nearly 90 percent of the population could miss out on the essential jab.
He noted that so far only two African countries — Egypt and Morocco — have received some COVID-19 vaccine doses, all from China.
According to Adhere, health experts and officials across the continent are now worried that Africa could be up against a long wait for the vaccine-aided economic recovery from the global health crisis.
He noted that a number of factors have fuelled what is increasingly turning out to be hypocrisy of the western countries regarding global solidarity against the pandemic.
Adhere said the vaccines that are already in the market rely on cold storage facilities that are hard to come by in Africa and this demonstrates a scientific bias against a section of the global population.
According to the scholar, universally viable vaccine options could have informed the research and production of such essential commodities.
He revealed that developed economies have already purchased over nine billion of the 12 billion doses to be produced this year.
“This means the production lines will be running round the clock to meet the demands of the rich countries, in what now appears to be another instance of commodity hoarding,” Adhere said.
He noted that since Africa has not participated in the trials for nearly all of the Western-produced vaccine candidates, experts now project that it might take repurposing of the vaccines to get it right in Africa.
The expert noted that repurposing of vaccines would certainly delay the provision of lifesaving vials to the continent whose economies have been dealt a heavy blow by the global health crisis.
Adhere said that the commitment by advanced economies to support equitable access by developing countries through the global vaccine alliance, COVAX, does not look to hold much promise to Africa.
The scholar noted that beyond the multilateral efforts to inoculate the continent from the pandemic, individual African countries must now think about alternative source markets for vaccines away from western capitals. Enditem