World Philanthropist Mo Ibrahim Tells Countries to 'Walk the Talk' in Supplying Africa COVID Vaccines
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Philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, 75, tells countries to "walk the talk" in supplying Africa much-needed COVID-19 vaccines during a Tuesday interview with the Associated Press.
Ibrahim, a British billionaire born in Sudan, denounced the unequal global distribution of vaccines, as only 7 million of Africa's 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated, according to the World Health Organization's () director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti.
'This IS INSANE': Africa desperately short of COVID vaccine
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — In the global race to vaccinate people against COVID-19, Africa is tragically at the back of the pack. In fact, it has barely gotten out of the starting blocks. In South Africa, which has the continent’s most robust economy and its biggest coronavirus caseload, just 0.8% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to a worldwide tracker kept by Johns Hopkins University. And hundreds of thousands of the country's health workers, many of whom come face-to-face with the virus every day, are still waiting for their shots.In Nigeria, Africa's biggest country with more than 200 million people, only 0.
Regarding the popular pandemic slogan, "nobody is safe until everybody is safe," Ibrahim said wealthy nations "say that while they are hoarding the vaccine. Can you walk the talk? Stop just talking like parrots, you know, and do you really mean what you said?"
The WHO announced last week that there is "a near halt" in vaccine shipments for Africa. Ibrahim believes that Africa's frontline workers should receive "at least a reasonable portion" of available vaccines.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Ibrahim, a British mobile phone magnate, is hailed as a voice of moral authority across Africa. He earned his fortune by establishing the Celtel mobile phone network across Africa in the 1990s.
Asia welcomes US vaccine donations amid cold storage worries
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Health officials and experts in Asia have welcomed U.S. plans to share 500 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine with the developing world, but some say it would take more than donations alone to address huge vaccination gaps that threaten to prolong the pandemic. President Joe Biden was set to make the announcement Thursday in a speech before the start of the Group of Seven summit in Britain. Two hundred million doses — enough to fully protect 100 million people — would be shared this year, with the balance to be donated in the first half of 2022, according to a source familiar with the matter who confirmed the news of the Pfizer sharing plan.
He is now using that fortune to promote democracy and political accountability on the continent, including through his sponsorship of the $5 million Ibrahim Prize for African leaders who govern responsibly and who give up their power peacefully.
He lamented the global "competition" for vaccines in an interview with AP. His comments came late Tuesday in a Zoom call from London, where he is based.
Some African countries face a spike in cases.
Africa has administered vaccine doses to 31 million of its 1.3 billion people.
Sub-Saharan Africa has on average administered only one vaccine dose per 100 people, compared to a global average of 23 doses per 100 people, she said, reiterating Africa's ongoing plea for richer countries with significant vaccination coverage to share some of their remaining doses.
Presidenthas said the United States would share some of its vaccines.
Africa's CDC Director Calls U.S. Donation of COVID Vaccines 'Cause for Celebration'
The Biden administration announced it would donate 200 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to developing countries in Africa. Africa's CDC director said it's a call for celebration, but many questions are still left unanswered.Dr. John Nkengasong said, "Absolutely, it's going to be a big help," and is eager to reach an exact timeline for when the shots will reach them.
Ibrahim warned also that Africa cannot afford to sit back, citing a need for greater accountability by governments which pledged in 2001 to spend at least 15% of their national budgets on public health. Economic integration that widens trade among nations is key, he said.
While support from abroad is welcome, he said, "we should rely much more on ourselves. I always thought self-reliance is something important in Africa."
"We really need to build resilient health service in our countries," he said.
Citing Tanzania under former leader John Magufuli, who died in March, Ibrahim said he was disappointed that some presidents appeared to dismiss the threat from COVID-19.
"We need to hold our leaders accountable," he said. "You deny and you pay the price....Unfortunately, your people also pay the price. So we need to hold our people accountable for their behavior, for the way they allocate resources. And it is for us in civil society to keep raising this issue."
Africa has confirmed more than 4.9 million COVID-19 cases, including 132,000 deaths, representing a tiny fraction of the global caseload. But some experts worry that the continent will suffer greatly in the long term if more of its people are not vaccinated in efforts to achieve herd immunity, when enough people are protected through infection or vaccination to make it difficult for a virus to continue to spread.
Vikings' Mike Zimmer: Players not vaccinated against COVID-19 will have 'harder time' this season
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said those who don't receive shots will only make things more difficult for themselves throughout the summer and fall months. He explained:"The unvaccinated players are going to have a harder time in the season. They’re going to be wearing masks, they’ll have to social distance. They’ll have daily testings. They won’t be able to go home for bye week. They’ll have to come back here and test every day."When we go on the road, they won’t be able to go out to dinner with anybody. They’ll have to travel on buses differently, travel on planes differently.
Achieving that goal will require about 1.5 billion vaccine doses for Africa if there is widespread use of the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine, often the main shot available under the donor-backed COVAX program to ensure access for developing countries.
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Fact check: COVID-19 vaccines aren't magnetic .
All three coronavirus vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States are free from metals. And even if they did have metallic ingredients, public health officials say the vaccines wouldn't cause a magnetic reaction. USA TODAY reached out to Ruby and Tenpenny for comment. Vaccine ingredients aren't magnetic The lists of ingredients for all three coronavirus vaccines approved for emergency use are publicly available online. None of them include magnetic substances.