By Alan Heil
On August 3, the Biden administration announced it would begin distributing vaccines to 65 nations, many in Africa. Official global deaths so far have reportedly reached at least 4,255,657, a vast undercount by most estimates.
VOA’s Hayde Adams interviewed U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs Akuna Cook about the early stages of the humanitarian shipments to that continent.
Ms. Adams reported that only about 1 percent of Africans have been fully vaccinated. Latest population estimates are that Africa has 1.3 billion inhabitants. Vastly undercounted reported cases in that continent, are only 103,000 so far.
Rough estimates of the global scale of the COVID-19 crisis as of August 3
In late May, the Group of 20 economic powers including the U.S., Italy, Japan, Russia, and senior officials of the European Union met in Rome.
At that summit, designed to assess the unprecedented dangers posed globally by COVID-19, private sector corporate leaders also weighed in.
American and German vaccine partners Pfizer-BioNTech recently pledged a total of 2 billion doses of their vaccines as part of the global rescue effort. The first billion, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla said, will be delivered in 2021 and the second billion doses next year.
President Biden said on August 3 that Washington is making no demands for its vaccine donations. And, he added, “there’s no favoritism and no strings attached.” VOA White House correspondent Steve Herman quoted the president as adding: “We’re doing this to save lives and to end this pandemic.”
Other industrialized nations are joining the effort. Reuters reports that Japan is planning this month to send millions of more vaccine doses to its Asian neighbors. Among them: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Iran, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan, as well as several Pacific island states.
The host of the May COVID emergency summit in Rome, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, underscored the desperate global need for vaccines.
As he put it: “Of the nearly 1.5 billion COVID vaccines that have been administered in more than 180 countries worldwide, only O.3 % have been delivered in low-income nations, while 85% went to the world’s richest countries.”
High time for the recent action recognizing the urgency for that to change, if the 21st century’s most deadly epidemic is to be tamed and a sad chapter in our contemporary history ended.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More