Hoarding of COVID-19 vaccines by some Western countries and providing nearly expired vaccines to Africa is immoral, violates basic human rights and delays the end of the pandemic and global socioeconomic recovery, according to African experts.
They made the remarks after Nigeria destroyed more than 1 million expired doses of AstraZeneca vaccine last week. The vaccine doses were donated by Western countries and had just weeks left on their shelf life.
In addition to Nigeria, countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Senegal also face similar problems of expired COVID-19 vaccines.
“It is immoral and an outright violation of the basic tenets of human rights to use the continent of Africa as a dumping site for expired COVID-19 vaccines that are being donated by the Western countries,” said Dennis Munene, executive director of the China-Africa Center at the Kenya-based Africa Policy Institute.
“The weakest link in the fight against COVID-19 are some of the developed countries in the West that have been overtly and covertly advocating for ‘vaccine imperialism and nationalism’,” Munene said.
Faisal Shuaib, head of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency, told reporters last week that the destroyed AstraZeneca vaccine doses had been hoarded by developed countries and donated to Nigeria when they were about to expire. Some of these vaccines arrived with about four weeks of shelf life left, he said.
Gerald Mbanda, a researcher and publisher in Rwanda, said the hoarding of the vaccines by rich nations, even when the Omicron variant is spreading, is not only immoral, but also delays the end of the pandemic and global socioeconomic recovery.
While many rich countries are now administering booster shots to their populations, less than 9 percent of the whole population of Africa has been fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. That is far below the World Health Organization target to vaccinate 40 percent of the populations in all countries by the end of the year.
“Unless rich countries act humanely and share vaccines as well as provide patent rights for the manufacture of the vaccines in less-privileged countries, the war against the COVID-19 pandemic will be unnecessarily prolonged, as well as human suffering,” Mbanda said. “No one will be safe until everyone is safe.
“By continuing to hoard vaccines, the rich countries are contributing to making poor countries poorer, at the same time failing to stop preventable deaths,” he added.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called on Monday for countries to deliver safe and more effective vaccines to developing countries, including African countries, to make up the global vaccination gap.
Some Western countries have hoarded excessive amounts of COVID-19 vaccines, resulting in huge waste, he said, adding that China will continue to honor its commitment to making the vaccines a global public good and providing them to developing countries in need.
Munene, from the Africa Policy Institute, said China has provided nearly 2 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, making it the world’s largest provider, and none of them have been near the expiration date.
“Unlike some of the developed countries that are playing politics with the pandemic, China is committed to its pledge of building a community with a shared future for mankind,” he said.