Countries are accelerating their steps to provide vaccines against the emerging corona virus (Covid-19), and for his part, the President of South Africa appealed to rich countries not to hoard vaccines, and the President of the European Commission called on vaccine manufacturers to fulfill their obligations, at a time when Saudi Arabia is negotiating to provide vaccines to Yemen and African countries.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged rich countries to stop collecting and storing more Covid-19 vaccines that they have requested and do not need immediately, saying that the countries of the world must work together to combat the pandemic.
“We want those who hoard vaccines to leave them so other countries can get them,” Ramaphosa said in an online meeting at the World Economic Forum.
He added that rich countries bought large quantities of vaccines, noting that some of them bought 4 times what their people need, which leads to the exclusion of other countries, as he put it.
The outbreak of the pandemic in this country is the worst on the African continent, which is struggling to obtain enough vaccines to start vaccination campaigns for its 1.3 billion people.
For her part, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed, after announcing a delay in the delivery of anti-COVID-19 vaccines to Europe, that vaccine manufacturers should “fulfill their promises and implement their commitments,” especially since they have benefited from huge European investments.
“Europe has invested billions to develop the first vaccines and ensure a real global benefit,” she said in a video conference at the Davos forum, adding, “Now companies must fulfill their promises and fulfill their commitments.”
The Commission wants answers from the British-Swedish group AstraZeneca and the American Pfizer about the delay in the delivery of vaccines to the European Union.
In a sign of concern that drug industry groups may be selling vaccines intended for the European Union to parties paying more outside of it, the Commission is seeking to compel companies to notify the authorities of any export operations outside the Union.
The pace of vaccine deployment in the European Union lags behind those in the United States, Britain and Israel, although member states, including Malta, Denmark and France, have begun to accelerate their programs.
In Saudi Arabia, Finance Minister Muhammad Al-Jadaan said today that the Kingdom is negotiating with manufacturers to provide low-income countries such as Yemen and countries on the African continent with vaccines to prevent Covid-19.
Al-Jadaan stated – during the Davos Forum meeting – that Yemen and some African countries will not be able to obtain enough vaccines through the Covax program, which is a global mechanism for purchasing and distributing Covid-19 vaccines.
The Kovacs program aims to help Yemen vaccinate 20% of its most vulnerable population with vaccines provided by donors.
It is noteworthy that Riyadh has led a military alliance that has been fighting the Houthi movement in Yemen since early 2015 in a war that has pushed this country into a humanitarian crisis.
Morocco: Campaign launched
In Morocco, the Ministry of Health began distributing Covid-19 vaccines throughout the Kingdom as the country prepares to become the first African country to launch a mass vaccination program against the Coronavirus this week.
Mohammed bin Azouz, in charge of the National Immunization Program (vaccination) at the Ministry of Health, said that vaccination dates have been set for workers in the health sector, while citizens register their names online to receive the vaccine through 3,000 sites.
On Friday, Morocco received two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured at the Indian Serum Institute for Serum and Vaccine, and it is expected to receive 500 thousand doses of the Chinese SinoPharm vaccine tomorrow, Wednesday.
The Coronavirus pandemic has hit Morocco hard, as it shrank the economy by 7.2% last year, the International Monetary Fund said. The unemployment rate increased to nearly 15%, with about a quarter of a million jobs lost.
Rabat has requested 66 million vaccine doses, including 25 million from AstraZeneca and the rest from Sinopharm, with the Kingdom targeting to vaccinate 25 million people, representing four fifths of the country’s population over a period of 3 months.
Iran licenses Sputnik vaccine
In Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said today, Tuesday, that Tehran had approved the use of the Russian “Sputnik-V” vaccine to prevent Corona virus.
“Our health authorities registered and approved the (Sputnik V) vaccine yesterday,” Zarif said during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow today.
For its part, a WHO expert group on vaccines announced on Tuesday that the second dose of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 can be given within a period of up to 6 weeks after the first dose in exceptional circumstances.
The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts recommended giving Moderna vaccine a difference of 28 days between the two doses, but said that the second dose “can be delayed for 42 days” in the event that exceptional circumstances arise associated with the massive spread of the epidemic in a country or a shortage of vaccines.
In Palestine, the Minister of Health, Mai Al-Kaila, announced today that 660 new cases of Coronavirus and 10 deaths have been recorded among Palestinians during the past 24 hours.
She added that the Gaza Strip recorded 214 injuries, out of all new cases.
The Palestinian government imposes a partial closure in the West Bank from seven in the evening until six in the morning every day from Sunday to Thursday, and a complete closure on Friday and Saturday to counter the spread of the virus.
According to the Ministry of Health database, the total number of infections with the Coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic last March reached 176 thousand and 84 cases, of which 165,22 recovered, and 1977 died.