Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Calls on Africa to Develop its Own Vaccine
The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation ( WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has called on African leaders to boost the continent’s capacities to produce COVID-19 vaccines as the continent currently lags in its efforts to vaccinate 60 per cent of its 1.3 billion population.
She made this call during a meeting in Abuja with the country’s heads and owners of industries with the likes of Alhaji Aliko Dangote in attendance noting that at this stage of the continent’s development, it can no longer continue depending on the West for vaccine supplies.
The WTO DG stated that African countries were getting vaccines from the international COVAX initiative, donors like India, China and Russia and the continent’s dependence on imported vaccines may pose as a form of hindrance to speedy vaccination exercise as richer countries stockpile vaccines and prioritise their own populations.
Dr Ngozi also warned that access to poor-quality vaccines is worse than no access, adding that the goal of local manufacturing must be to ensure quality, protect patients and foster trust in vaccine safety.
“It’s so important for us to have that,” she said, referring to vaccine security.
According to her, to compound matters, without a stable supply, opportunities for substandard and falsified vaccines to enter the supply-chain may increase, diminishing trust in vaccines and health systems, reiterating that African countries would need to have in place, the right systems and infrastructure to define the regulatory and ethical pathways for a quick approval of a candidate vaccine.