African leaders echoed need for vaccine equity at Berlin summit

Vaccine production in Africa received strong support at the Berlin Compact with Africa summit.

African leaders attended the summit in Germany on Friday and renewed calls for COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers, saying the decision would allow African countries access to reasonably priced vaccines. Africa has administered the least amount of vaccines from any other continent and has lagged behind in vaccination rollout since the start of the pandemic whereas some richer countries have vaccinated nearly their entire adult populations and have even started considering booster shots. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called the unequal access to vaccine 'not fair'. "We expressed our disappointment, we expressed our unhappiness, and said that it’s not fair that Africa has only vaccinated only 2% of the entire population of the 1.3 billion population and yet, the more developed countries in the north have vaccinated up to 60%", Rampahosa said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel who has rejected calls to waive vaccines patents said it was a 'dramatic injustice' that Africa's vaccination rates remained low. "The availability as well as the production of the vaccines is linked to the economic wellbeing of the African continent and when we see today that we have vaccinated more than 60% of our population and that it is 2% in Africa, it is of course a dramatic injustice which we which we need to overcome, we talked about that honestly today," she said. German laboratory BioNTech also present at the summit, announced that it is aiming to set up production sites for messenger RNA vaccines in Africa next year, notably in Senegal and Rwanda. To date, Africa has recorded over 7,721,121 cases with 194,160 COVID-19 reported deaths.