Nigeria has warned leaders across the globe against unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution even in developing countries which could provide a fertile ground for the virus to mutate, thus threatening the progress already recorded
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, issued the warning in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday at the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
He was speaking against the background of the latest mutation (Omicron) of the Covid-19 virus, which has triggered a wave of travel bans on some countries in Africa.
In a statement made available, the Minister explained that access to vaccines should be based on the principles grounded in the right of every human to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, political belief, economic or any other social condition.
Mohammed said many developed countries have used the advantage of their enormous resources or relationship to sign agreements with manufacturers to supply their countries with vaccines ahead of making them available for use by other countries.
”Even before the clinical trials were completed, millions of doses of the most promising vaccines have been bought by Britain, US, Japan and the European block countries. Some of these countries bought doses five times the size of their population.
“There are fears that these unilateral deals will deprive the poorest countries of access to these life-saving commodities,” he said.
The Minister said while developed countries have to increase their health care spending by less than 1% to cover the additional cost of vaccines, poor countries have to do that by about 60%.
He said booster doses will make Covid-19 vaccination a recurring expense, the cost of which will be unaffordable for many developing and poor nations.
Mohammed said a slow and delayed vaccination rollout in low and middle-income countries has left many of them vulnerable to Covid-19 variants, new surges of infection and slower rate of recovery.
He said whereas most developed countries have already vaccinated 60% and above of their population, most developing countries are currently below 5%.
“My country, Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, has just vaccinated only about 3% of our population,” the Minister disclosed.