Dev’t Community Calls for Universal Vaccine Access to Mitigate Impact of Omicron, Other Covid-19 Variants

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December 03/2021 (ENA) Development community at the 2021 African Economic Conference has called for urgent universal vaccine access as a way to mitigate the impact of Omicron and other variants of the Covid-19 virus in the continent.

The World Health Organization on Friday categorized Omicron as a Covid-19 “variant of concern”, signifying that it could be more contagious than other known mutations.

The 2021 edition of the African Economic Conference is being held in a hybrid format in Sal, Cabo Verde, and online.

The conference brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including policymakers, development institutions, the private sector, and researchers, to discuss ways to sustainably grow the continent’s development funding sources.

At the 2021 African Economic Conference on Thursday, Cabo Verde President José Maria Neves said although the world may have to live with Covid-19 for a few years, “we must act to manufacture our own vaccine and medicines to face this and other pandemics to come.”

“We must find innovative mechanisms for financing and managing sustainable development; otherwise we will disappoint young Africans,” Neves added.

“The fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, besides being internal to each country, is at the same time a global fight, which requires global collaborative solutions,” Neves stated.

Everyone wins if the less developed countries have the necessary conditions to overcome this serious health, economic and social crisis and to leverage their sustainable development, the president added.

In a video message, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed said that vaccine inequality could cost African countries billions of dollars.

“Africa cannot recover from the pandemic alone, we need global solidarity,” she added.

Deputy Executive Secretary at the Economic Commission for Africa, Antonio Pedro on his part warned that “failure to address the pandemic through universal access to vaccines will spawn more resilient and potent variants, threatening the global effort to fight the virus. The recent emergence of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus illustrates my point.”

Attributing the emergence of the Omicron variant to “an uncoordinated global response to the pandemic”, he stated adding that “the possibility of new and more virulent variants, coupled with imminent climate shocks, calls for a more coordinated global response to the pandemic, backed by bold and innovative financing mechanisms.”  

Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President at the African Development Bank, Kevin Urama also stressed on how the pandemic continued to have a huge socio-economic impact on Africa.

The Bank stood ready to support African countries as they rebuild their economies, he said, noting that “this has heightened the need for transformative domestic reforms. Challenges to Africa’s financing development must be tackled collectively.”