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Africa calls for universal access to vaccines against Omicron

Posted on 12/02/2021 at 11:25 p.m. by AFP

Cape Verde President José Maria Neves joined the development community on Thursday to call for urgent universal access to vaccines as a way to mitigate the impact of Omicron and other variants of Covid-19 .

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

Neves told attendees at the 2021 African Economic Conference that while the world has to live with Covid-19 for a few years, “we need to act to make our own vaccine and medicine to deal with this pandemic and others. future “.

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

“The fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to being internal to each country, is at the same time a global fight, which requires global collaborative solutions. Everyone wins if the least developed countries have the conditions to overcome this serious health, economic and social crisis and to benefit from their sustainable development, ”said Neves.

The 16th edition of the African Economic Conference is being held in a hybrid format in Sal, Cape Verde and online. It brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including policy makers, development institutions, the private sector and researchers, to discuss ways to sustainably develop the continent’s sources of development finance.

Rui Figueiredo Soares, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cape Verde, observed with concern the current situation of the pandemic. “It strikes all countries without exception, which is why this conference, organized with the support of the African Development Bank, the United Nations Development Program and the Economic Commission for Africa, could not have come at a better time” .

In a video message, Amina Mohammed, UN Under-Secretary-General, said vaccine inequality could cost African countries billions of dollars. “Africa cannot recover from the pandemic on its own, we need global solidarity,” she said.

Antonio Pedro, deputy executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, for his part warned that “failure to fight the pandemic through universal access to vaccines will lead to more resistant and more 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. “, He continued, adding that the emergence of the Omicron variant is” an uncoordinated global response to the pandemic “.

“The possibility of new and more virulent variants, coupled with looming climate shocks, calls for a more coordinated global response to the pandemic, supported by bold and innovative financing mechanisms,” added Pedro.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Administrator of the United Nations Development Program Achim Steiner told participants that “ensuring vaccine equity is the fastest way to end this pandemic”.

“We need urgent cooperation from vaccine manufacturers and vaccine producing countries and countries with high immunization rates to deal with this acute shortage of vaccine supply,” he said. underline.

For him, “this will help to open up economic and social opportunities across the continent, boost GDP and advance economic recovery.” “We are seeing worrying signs of an uneven global economic recovery…” he said.

In the same vein, Achim Steiner noted that African countries need new access to finance and debt relief measures, innovative financing solutions as well as more adapted support for the transition. towards a green economy as well as the potential to leverage digital technology to address acute development challenges.

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