As the pharmaceutical companies scramble to extend vaccination against COVID-19 to pre-teenagers and then to toddlers while preparing for third, fourth, or more shots for those already vaccinated in the developed world, in an op-ed in the New York Times physician Matshidiso Moeti urges the people of the developed world to think about Africa:
As the rich world rolls out Covid-19 booster shots, hundreds of millions of Africans remain dangerously exposed, still awaiting their first vaccine dose. This not only adds to the litany of harsh disparities we’ve seen around this virus, but it is also a scandalous injury to global solidarity and vaccine equity.
While early data on waning immunity is emerging around some vaccines, there’s no conclusive evidence to justify giving boosters to fit, healthy people. Third doses should be given only to the small number of people facing a high risk of severe illness and death, despite being fully vaccinated, including those with compromised immune systems. Boosters for the healthy are, effectively, a hopeful “why not.” Political decisions are getting ahead of science, diverting doses and leaving Africans with few options.
Giving healthy people boosters now is similar to sending a generous educational grant to a billionaire while others are scraping together their college tuition.
To date the “rich world” has been very good at promising to make vaccines available to developing countries but not nearly as good at delivering. Here’s the scorecard as of one month ago:
as reported by the Associated Press. I would think that the EU, Germany, France, Italy et all would want to ensure that people in African countries are vaccinated if only out of self-interest. Similarly, I think the U. S. focus should be on Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean for similar reasons. To promise is good but following through on your promises is better.