The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is calling on the world community to make sure Africa gets a fair share of COVID-19 vaccines.
Ahead of a visit to the Central African Republic, one year after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported there, ICRC President Peter Maurer said in a statement Friday that “[i]t is a moral imperative that Africa’s access to needed vaccines is drastically improved, but also that COVID vaccination campaigns do not come at the cost of other key health concerns.”
He said as new COVID-19 variants start to spread, “[n]o one is safe until everyone is safe,” adding that “equitable access to its vaccine today is a critical step towards more equitable access to vaccines more generally.”
The World Health Organization said this week that the UN-led COVAX initiative aims to start shipping about 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa this month. It said the immunization rollout will be the continent’s largest ever mass vaccination campaign.
Most of the doses will be of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The ICRC said as more vaccines become available, it is of paramount importance that authorities give high priority to displaced people, migrants and refugees, people in detention, and to communities in areas under non-government control, the statement said.
“Vaccinating vulnerable groups across the globe makes economic sense,” Maurer said.
The ICRC, in close cooperation with Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and other partners, is ready to help with vaccine roll outs, Maurer said.