Africa: Covax Plan Boosts Covid-19 Vaccine Hopes for Developing Countries

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on December 3, 2020.

Without a magic wand, no country will immediately be able to vaccinate very large numbers of people, but for developing countries, the hurdles between approval in the northern hemisphere and a jab in the arm in the 'global south' are infinitely more challenging.

On the heels of extraordinarily successful results announced by four Covid-19 vaccine developers within three weeks of one another, the question of whether developing countries will be "left behind" continues to be asked.

COVAX, a massively funded global collaboration involving 187 countries, aims to ensure that they are not, helping 92 of the least advanced countries to buy and roll out a vaccine for the most vulnerable 20% of their populations - although only about 3% of all countries' populations will receive vaccines through COVAX early in 2021.

The past few weeks have seen astonishingly uplifting news about Covid-19 vaccines: Global pharmaceutical giants Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca all announced better-than-expected effectiveness of three vaccines from large-scale clinical trials (two above 90%, one at 70%), making the longstanding promise of vanquishing coronavirus a reality. (A fourth, Sputnik, from Russia's Gamaleya research institute, also announced 95% efficacy but the lack of available data on its clinical trials has cast...

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