Stop hoarding vaccines: S Africa's Prez to rich nations

Stop hoarding Covid vaccines, South Africa's Ramaphosa tells rich countries

Ramaphosa, who currently chairs the African Union, said African countries wanted access to vaccines as quickly as other nations

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) treatment facilities in Johannesburg. Credit: Reuters Photo

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday urged wealthy countries to stop hoarding excess Covid-19 vaccines that they had ordered but did not immediately need, saying the world needed to act together to fight the pandemic.

"We need those who have hoarded the vaccines to release the vaccines so that other countries can have them," Ramaphosa told a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

"The rich countries of the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines. ... Some countries even acquired up to four times what their population needs ... to the exclusion of other countries".

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Ramaphosa, who currently chairs the African Union, said African countries wanted access to vaccines as quickly as other nations.

South Africa's Covid outbreak is the worst in Africa, and the continent as a whole is struggling to secure sufficient vaccines to start countrywide inoculation programmes for its 1.3 billion people.

"We are all not safe if some countries are vaccinating their people and other countries are not vaccinating," Ramaphosa said. "We all must act together in combating the coronavirus."