President Cyril Ramaphosa announced South Africa’s support for the establishment of a global health financial intermediary fund for pandemic preparedness, as well as a Global Health Threats Council.
He was addressing a virtual summit themed ‘Ending the Pandemic and Building Better Health Security to Prepare for the Next’, at the invitation of US President Joe Biden.
The summit envisaged an agreement by leaders on four targets, aimed at creating lasting solutions to combatting Covid-19 and future pandemics.
Ramaphosa has been central in the global leadership response to the pandemic over and above being the Covid-19 Champion for the African Union (AU) and the African continent.
Ramaphosa said South Africa is encouraged that the goals and targets for ending the pandemic are broadly aligned with the key components of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners.
He noted that the commitment made to vaccinating at least 70% of the world’s population by 2022 had not even reached 10%.
“The gulf is widening between better-resourced nations who are buying up and even hoarding vaccines, and developing countries who are struggling. Of the around 6-billion vaccine doses administered worldwide, only 2% of these have been administered in Africa, a continent of more than 1.2-billion people. This is unjust and immoral,” Ramaphosa said.
He welcomed the commitment to dose donation and sharing but stressed that developing countries should manufacture their own vaccines, as well as procure vaccines directly.
South Africa is hosting the WHO’s first Covid-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub to serve the African continent. Other African countries are also building capacity for manufacturing, supported by the AU’s Partnership for Vaccine Manufacturing in Africa.
“This summit must come up with a sustainable plan on how developing countries will be supported. Not only to meet targets around vaccination, oxygen, diagnostics, and personal protective equipment but also for manufacturing,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that cooperation, collective action and consensus would be the strength in the current Covid-19 crisis.
“We must close the financing and supply gap for COVAX, the AVATT [Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team] and other mechanisms, as the greatest lesson we have learned from this pandemic is that fortune favours the prepared,” said Ramaphosa.