Governments in Southern Africa urged to speedily vaccinate as many people as possible

Non-governmental organizations have called on Governments in Southern Africa and donors to ramp up efforts and increase resources to speedily vaccinate as many people as possible, in order to avoid third wave catastrophe.

Amnesty International and 27 other Non-Governmental Organizations have urged high income countries and their groupings, including G20 and G7, to ensure that the intellectual property rights do not to prevent any country from upholding the right to health.

“A number of countries across Southern Africa, including Namibia, South Africa and Zambia, are currently in the midst of what could be the deadliest wave yet. The lack of vaccines in a region with high levels of poverty and inequality means many people feel they are just waiting to die,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

“SADC and the international community must work together to accelerate the vaccine rollout and ensure as many people as possible are given lifesaving jabs.”

The World Health Organization has predicted that the third wave of Covid-19 infections currently gripping Southern Africa will likely be the deadliest yet.

Countries including South Africa, Namibia and Zambia have been reporting their highest ever rates of new infections in the past few weeks, with South Africa currently averaging 10,000 new cases every day.

South Africa has been the epicenter of the pandemic in the SADC region since March 2020. As of 21 June, there have been 1,823,319 infections and 58,702 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country.

In Malawi, there is currently a shortage of vaccines and people have been reporting about moving from one vaccination to another in search of a jab.

Daily Covid-19 cases have also been rising over the past days with 119 recorded yesterday, raising fears about a third wave.

“While rich countries are hoarding vaccines and refusing to waive intellectual property rights, people in Southern Africa have no protection from an increasingly deadly third wave. Access to Covid-19 vaccines should not be determined by where someone lives or how much they earn.”

“The international community must help SADC leaders scale up the vaccine rollout to their populations. Any further delay will have catastrophic consequences.” said Tiseke Kasambala, Chief of Party, Advancing Rights in Southern Africa Programme, Freedom House.

The organizations have also called for non-discrimination in vaccine distribution, and for states to ensure that people can access the vaccine regardless of nationality, refugee status or statelessness.

Covid-19 has so far killed almost 70,000 people in Southern Africa.

Leaders of the Southern African Development Community met in an extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Government in Maputo yesterday where they called upon the World Trade Organization (WTO) to finalize negotiations on the waiver of certain provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and expedite its operationalization.

The pandemic has so far killed almost 70,000 people in Southern Africa.