Ramaphosa, world leaders call for ‘equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines’

Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/The Presidency

President Cyril Ramaphosa has teamed up with other world leaders to call for equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines once they are approved for mass production.

Ramaphosa, who is also Chairperson of African Union (AU), made the call in an open letter along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Others included New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, and (now-former) Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh.

200 potential COVID-19 vaccines

The open letter was published in The Washington Post on Wednesday. “We call on global leaders to commit to contributing to an equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, based on the spirit of a greater freedom for all,” the leaders wrote.

They noted that there are currently 200 potential COVID-19 vaccines being developed and if one or more of them is successful, “it must be a win for all of us.”

“We cannot allow access to vaccines to increase inequalities within or between countries – whether low-, middle- or high-income. Therefore, we must urgently ensure that vaccines will be distributed according to a set of transparent, equitable and scientifically sound principles.

“Where you live should not determine whether you live, and global solidarity is central to saving lives and protecting the economy,” they added.

The leaders called for a stronger “multilateral mechanism,” guided by World Health Organisation (WHO) advice, to establish a “fair and effective vaccine allocation mechanism” that is based on needs rather than means.

Ramaphosa made a similar call while addressing the AU Conference on Africa’s Leadership Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access in June.

“As African leaders, we need to join our efforts and negotiate with global donors to raise funds – and we need to mobilise resources in each of our countries and within the continent – to secure supply of the vaccine upfront,” he said.

Russia COVID-19 vaccine

Around 22 vaccines are currently at the human trials stage worldwide, according to a Daily Maverick report. The Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University in Russia said last weekend that it had completed COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials on volunteers and that the medication is effective.

The trials’ chief researcher, Elena Smolyarchuk, told Russian state-run news agency TASS that the trials began on 18 June with the vaccination of 18 volunteers. A further 20 volunteers were vaccinated on 23 June.

“The research has been completed and it proved that the vaccine is safe. The volunteers will be discharged on 15 July and 20 July,” Smolyarchuk said.

The first clinical trial for a COVID19 vaccine in South Africa began on 23 June. It is being conducted by Wits University in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute.

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