UK markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    6,483.43
    -168.53 (-2.53%)
     
  • FTSE 250

    20,910.37
    -287.75 (-1.36%)
     
  • AIM

    1,183.25
    -8.61 (-0.72%)
     
  • GBP/EUR

    1.1537
    +0.0040 (+0.35%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3931
    -0.0082 (-0.59%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    33,316.42
    -1,849.19 (-5.26%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    929.15
    -3.99 (-0.43%)
     
  • S&P 500

    3,811.15
    -18.19 (-0.48%)
     
  • DOW

    30,932.37
    -469.64 (-1.50%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    61.58
    -1.95 (-3.07%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,731.00
    -44.40 (-2.50%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    28,966.01
    -1,202.26 (-3.99%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    28,980.21
    -1,093.96 (-3.64%)
     
  • DAX

    13,786.29
    -93.04 (-0.67%)
     
  • CAC 40

    5,703.22
    -80.67 (-1.39%)
     

Coronavirus vaccines offer the world hope – unless you live in Africa

Kenan Malik
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/AFP/Getty Images

Sixty million doses of Covid vaccines have been administered worldwide. That’s the good news. The bad news? All the people who have received a jab in Africa could fit comfortably on the top deck of a London bus. According to the World Health Organization, just 25 people, in a continent of 1.3bn, have been vaccinated. The 25 – in Guinea – are the only people in any low-income country to have received a Covid vaccine.

Some middle-income countries, most notably India, have set up ambitious vaccination programmes, but poorer countries have lost out. The Covax facility was set up to make vaccines globally available. It claims to have secured 200m doses from manufacturers and hopes to acquire 2bn doses in total. So far, none has been delivered.

Part of the problem is vaccine hoarding. The richest countries have ordered more than 4bn doses, often paying extra to jump the queue. That’s 16% of the world’s population acquiring 60% of the vaccines. Canada has ordered enough to cover its population five times over.

This is an issue of how a profits-based system fails when it comes to desperate social need

There’s also the problem of government incompetence – exemplified by South Africa – and a lack of infrastructure for distribution. But mostly it’s an issue of how a profit-based system fails when it comes to a desperate social need.

The difficulties have led some poorer countries to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies. South Africa has ordered 1.5m doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. But it’s paying $5.25 (£3.83) per dose – more than twice as much as European nations.

The creation of Covid vaccines is testament to scientific ingenuity. The scandal of its distribution is a demonstration of abject moral failure.

  • Kenan Malik is an Observer columnist