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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media in Pretoria, South Africa, Nov. 23, 2021. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media after meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Pretoria, South Africa, Nov. 23, 2021 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Africa Has More Leverage on Pandemic Inequities Than It Realizes

Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021

If anyone was hoping for a post-pandemic renewal of international cooperation in a world still feeling the aftershocks from Brexit, Donald Trump’s presidency, trade wars and global supply chain disruptions, they would likely be disappointed today. International relations in 2020 were driven primarily by the politics of aid and mask diplomacy. The second year of the coronavirus pandemic has been all about vaccines, geopolitical competition and travel restrictions. 

In a July edition of my Africa Watch newsletter, I noted that the rhetoric of renewed multilateralism heard at global summits and other international fora at the onset of the pandemic ultimately gave way to provincialism on the part of wealthier, more industrialized countries—primarily, but not exclusively, in the West. That development, particularly in its manifestation as vaccine nationalism, has disproportionately affected Africans, only 7 percent of whom are fully vaccinated. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, only 20 African countries have vaccinated at least 10 percent of their population.  ...

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