- ECOSOC, a principal organ of the UN, is leading efforts to drive policies that can ensure rapid recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic
- ECOSOC's president, Ambassador Akram, at a press briefing on Friday listed the important steps to take to recover from the virus, which includes vaccine equity
- Akram said countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya can produce the vaccine if given the right support, thereby expanding access to the vaccine in Africa
Ambassador Munir Akram, the president of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), has said Nigeria has the capacity to produce Covid-19 vaccine if the manufacturers share the relevant technology with the country.
Ambassador Akram made this known during a virtual press briefing attended by Briefly News, which was aimed at highlighting the priority actions the world needs to take to recover from the deadly Covid-19 pandemic as quickly as possible.
Briefly News learns that the press briefing tagged 'Face to Face' is a curtain-raiser for the 2021 ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum (12-15 April). The event will drive high-level political engagement to advance priority actions to set the world on track for recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Highlighting some of the key steps needed to be taken to recover from the virus, Ambassador Akram said vaccine production and equitable distribution are critical. The diplomat noted that the global community must avoid vaccine nationalism, both in terms of production and distribution.
According to him, vaccine inequality will slow down the recovery process from the pandemic which has brought the world to its knees.
How African countries can produce Covid-19 vaccine
Asked if the United Nations has any programme to address the absence of vaccine production in Africa, Akram said the majority of the African countries do not currently have the capacity to produce the vaccine.
However, he said countries like Nigeria, South African and Kenya could produce the Covid-19 vaccine if they get the relevant technological support.
"I believe Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa can produce the vaccine if the technology is shared with them. These countries can quickly redirect some of their pharmaceutical facilities to quickly produce the vaccines for the African continent."
Achieving vaccine equity
To ensure the entire world has the access to the vaccine and facilitate quick recovery from the pandemic, Akram said it is important to ramp up productions and distributions.
To achieve this, the ECOSOC president listed two key steps to take:
1. Waiver or suspension of intellectual property rights so that others can produce the vaccine
2. Transfer of the relevant production technology to others, especially the developing countries
The diplomat said this can be achieved by exerting the right political pressure at the level of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the international organisation dealing with the global rules of trade headed by Nigeria's Okonjo Iweala.
Briefly News also reported that an order was issued by the Gauteng High Court on Tuesday allowing for medicine that has Ivermectin as an active ingredient to be used to treat Covid-19 if prescribed by a doctor. The news follows a settlement that was reached between Afriforum and Dr George Coetzee.
The order of court was made by Judge Cassim Sardiwalla. Previously, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) and the aforementioned applicants made an agreement for the access to and compounding of Ivermectin.
Sahpra's registration of the medicine allows for it to be compounded and made accessible under Section 21 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act.
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