South Africa’s President wants COVID-19 vaccines to benefit Africa

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 04: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is interviewed after the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) on September 4, 2018 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cui Nan/China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images)
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo by Cui Nan/China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stressed on Thursday that African countries should benefit from the COVID-19 vaccines being developed.

The clinical testing of the vaccines needs to include African populations to ensure that the vaccines are appropriate for Africans, Ramaphosa said at the first virtual meeting of the Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A).

The world can not achieve universal health coverage when the COVID-19 vaccine is available only to countries that are well resourced in terms of research, manufacturing, distribution and service, Ramaphosa said.

“As long as someone in the world has the new coronavirus, however remote they may be, we are all at risk from the resurgence of COVID-19,” he said.

“We, therefore, need to move swiftly to ensure everyone has access to a vaccine at the same time.”

Ramaphosa urged all countries to support current global initiatives to fund COVID-19 vaccines.

The efforts by the WHO to enable collaboration among scientists to conduct clinical trials is very welcome, he said.

Vaccine development must be incentivized, especially for pharmaceutical companies which may be concerned that it will not be profitable, Ramaphosa said.

As some have already done, governments may need to subsidize the development of vaccines as an incentive to ensure fast and adequate production, he added.

The global community must encourage people to participate in safe clinical trials of different vaccines, said Ramaphosa.

Set up in April, the ACT-A is a groundbreaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.