Stop hoarding COVID-19 vaccines, South Africa's Ramaphosa tells rich countries

Stop hoarding COVID-19 vaccines, South Africa's Ramaphosa tells rich countries

A nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in South Africa
Funeral workers wearing personal protective equipment disinfects equipment after the burial of a COVID-19 victim, amid a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, at the Olifantsvlei cemetery, south-west of Joburg, South Africa Jan 6, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

JOHANNESBURG: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday (Jan 26) urged wealthy countries to stop hoarding excess COVID-19 vaccines that they had ordered but did not immediately need, saying the world needed to act together to fight the pandemic.

"We need those who have hoarded the vaccines to release the vaccines so that other countries can have them," Ramaphosa told a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

"The rich countries of the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines ... Some countries even acquired up to four times what their population needs ... to the exclusion of other countries."

READ: South African Muslim group safely buries its COVID-19 dead

Ramaphosa, who currently chairs the African Union, said African countries wanted access to vaccines as quickly as other nations.

South Africa's COVID outbreak is the worst in Africa, and the continent as a whole is struggling to secure sufficient vaccines to start countrywide inoculation programmes for its 1.3 billion people.

"We are all not safe if some countries are vaccinating their people and other countries are not vaccinating," Ramaphosa said. "We all must act together in combating the coronavirus."

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Source: Reuters/nh