West Exports Expired Vaccines To Africa

In times of global health crisis, the developed countries are exporting expired or almost expired Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries. Weeks ago, the Nigerian government announced that it destroyed up to 1.6 Million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Faisal Shuaib, head of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said: “We had developed countries that procured these vaccines and hoarded them. At the point they were about to expire, they offered them for donation.” He also announced recently that Nigeria would no longer accept such donations. 

Again, we can not thwart the spread of Coronavirus without ensuring the equal distribution of the vaccines. Instead of developing hostile rhetoric towards African countries and putting all the blame on them, we should make vaccines more accessible. In a global capitalist system, it is undebatable that inequalities will always exist. In this regard, the outbreak of covid-19 has further increased the gap between and within countries. Unfortunately, the poor are bearing the consequences. In addition to the deteriorating economic conditions, Third World countries are unable to vaccinate their people. Hoarding of COVID-19 vaccines by some Western countries and providing nearly expired vaccines to Africa is immoral, violates basic human rights, and delays the end of the pandemic and global socioeconomic recovery, according to African experts. 

David Miliband, President, and CEO at the International Red Cross (IRC), said: “As the pandemic continues to claim lives and destroy livelihoods worldwide, with variants now arising in several countries, the wealthiest countries have continued purchasing enough doses to cover their entire populations several times over — highlighting and exacerbating the extreme inequality faced by people living in conflict and crisis. Now is the time for bold action: commit to share excess vaccine doses and to provide the financial support needed to help low-income countries actually distribute the doses once received — or risk pushing the end of this pandemic even further out of sight” 

Frankly speaking, China is exerting a real effort to shore up vaccination programs in poor countries. Despite the intentions behind such a move, increasing the number of vaccinated Africans enhances the global fight against the pandemic. One of the reasons behind the spread of Omicron cases in Europe is the growing number of unvaccinated citizens in poor countries, especially in the African continent. “Vaccine Nationalism” or “Vaccine Imperialism” is dangerous. The soaring cases in Europe are among the outcomes of the dumb conspiracy theories and the extremist rhetoric of the European populist leaders.

While many rich countries are now administering booster shots to their populations, less than 9 percent of the whole population of Africa has been fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is far below the World Health Organization’s target to vaccinate 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of the year.

Gerald Mbanda, a researcher and publisher in Rwanda, says:”Unless rich countries act humanely and share vaccines as well as provide patent rights for the manufacture of the vaccines in less-privileged countries, the war against the COVID-19 pandemic will be unnecessarily prolonged, as well as human suffering. No one will be safe until everyone is safe.” 

Prior to the 2020 Presidential election, President Joe Biden pledged to globally promote human rights, yet he has not taken any meaningful steps toward achieving this end goal. The successive American administrations have failed to tackle the systematic failures in the US. Instead of putting all the blame on China, they should look at their mistakes, too. The US is losing its global influence because of its waning support for poor countries. Instead of criticizing China’s policies in Africa, they should find ways to regain the US influence in the continent. And the first thing they should do is to provide poor countries with vaccines. This is the only way through which the US could regain its global influence.

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