Let’s discuss the ethical considerations of COVID-19 vaccination rollout: Making the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good

UNESCO, in partnership with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the South African National Bioethics Committee, the Coalition of African National Medical Associations and World Health Organisation (WHO), will host a series of online workshops to discuss the equitable and timely allocation of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.

The first workshop will take place on 14 April 2021 and will present the UNESCO Statement on Global Equity and Solidarity, and the Africa CDC’s Framework for the Fair, Equitable and Timely Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines in Africa. How can ethical principles such as Global Solidarity, Equity, or Ubuntu be translated into Immunisation Policies and Plans in Africa?

Researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, and CSOs advocates will explore appropriate avenues for implementation of both documents at regional and country levels, by facilitating sharing of experiences and case studies to examine the current and potential challenges in rolling out the immunisation campaigns.

Africa has more than 3 million reported cases of COVID-19 and over 100 000 reported deaths. Hope began to spread through societies as vaccination started in December 2020. These vaccines have been exceptionally rapid as the inter-state donations of the COVID-19 vaccines have being deployed with great efforts by many States through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX). It is expected that approximately 90 million vaccine doses will be delivered in Africa before June 2021 through COVAX. However, to reach population immunity, the continent will need about 1.5 billion doses to reach 60% of the region’s population. Several critical ethical questions need to be addressed, given the scarcity of resources including the vaccine itself and related materials, financial, logistical and human resources and, above all, time.

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