Inequality in Corona Virus Vaccine Becomes Focus at UN General Assembly

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on Thursday (23/9).

Access to a COVID-19 vaccine has been one of the main topics at the annual meeting in New York and is likely to be the most discussed topic again on Thursday, when leaders from African nations will make up most of those scheduled to speak today.

While some countries like the US have had vaccine doses widely available to their populations for months, others have struggled to get access to COVID-19 vaccine supplies.

The African Centers for Disease Prevention and Control reports that only 4 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Screening of recorded speeches by South African President Ramaphosa at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at United Nations Headquarters, 23 September 2021.

Screening of recorded speeches by South African President Ramaphosa at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at United Nations Headquarters, 23 September 2021.

Ramaphosa was among a group of leaders participating in a virtual summit Wednesday hosted by US President Joe Biden to discuss community vaccination efforts around the world. Biden announced the US would buy another 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for distribution to other countries.

“Of the approximately 6 billion doses of vaccine administered worldwide, only 2 percent are administered in Africa, a continent of more than 1.2 billion people,” Ramaphosa said. “This is unfair and immoral.”

Other speakers on Thursday (23/9) will include Iraqi President Barham Salih, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a number of world leaders to pre-record their speeches instead of heading to New York for live speeches. About half of Thursday’s speeches were pre-recorded. [uh/lt]

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