The president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina has cautioned world leaders not to label or penalise African countries for the new Covid-19 variant that had been detected in five countries in Europe and Africa.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, Adesina, a strong advocate of equity in vaccine distribution, argued for global justice, equity, and fairness in access to vaccines.
On Thursday, South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced the discovery of the Covid-19 variant known as B.1.1.529. The World Health Organisation (WHO) later tagged it “Omicron” and designated it a ‘variant of concern’ (VOC) because of its “concerning” number of mutations.
Scientists had said the new Omicron could evade the body’s immune response, making it more transmissible.
At the last count, the new variant had been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong.
According said in his tweet, “Africa should not be labelled and penalized for COVID-19 variants and mutations that occur randomly elsewhere in the world. Africa is not the source of COVID-19,” he tweeted.
“There must be global justice, equity & fairness in access to vaccines. Global vaccine supply system has underserved Africa. Protecting one’s home alone in the midst of a forest fire does not work. Put out the forest fire.
“Africa must accelerate the manufacturing of its own vaccines & set up its own “healthcare security defence system”. Africa must no longer outsource health security of its 1.8 billion people to the benevolence of others.”
On Saturday, South Africa also said it was being punished for its advanced ability to detect new COVID-19 variants. The African nation said the travel bans and restrictions imposed would affect its economy.