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HomeGeopolitical CompassSub-Saharan AfricaVaccine Geopolitics Could Derail Africa’s Post-Pandemic Recovery

Vaccine Geopolitics Could Derail Africa’s Post-Pandemic Recovery

Author: Zainab Usman 

Affiliation: Africa Program at Carnegie (Director and Senior Fellow) 

Organization/Publisher: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Date/Place: February 24, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Article 

Word Count: 2049 


Keywords: COVID-19, Africa, pandemic, COVAX, Vaccines.


This article shows how the African continent was damaged by the global COVID-19 pandemic and its precautions to prevent the spread of the virus by implementing lockdowns and restrictions. Pioneer countries and companies have developed effective vaccines, and are inoculating the wealthy countries that have enough and surplus of doses for their needs. This situation makes it harder to supply vaccines to poorer countries, especially for African countries which need billions of doses of vaccines to immunize their population. Africa has been severely affected by the pandemic in terms of its economy, and several obstacles curb African countries from accessing vaccines. Firstly, purchasing and delivering the vaccines cost a lot for Africa because they were already dealing with debts, and the prices being paid are higher than the price offered for wealthy countries.  Another obstacle is the intellectual property protections of the vaccines. Intellectual property rules prevent other countries from developing the vaccines that could help accelerate the production of the vaccines, and which would shorten the eventual distribution. However, the waiver of intellectual property rules to promote knowledge and technology transfer is being rejected by the wealthy states who continue to exploit while claiming that the intellectual property helps innovation. Moreover, desires to reach for more vaccines create a geopolitical competition for the big powers such as Russia, China, and the US. Russia and China have pledged to provide vaccines for low prices compared to Western countries’ proposals, and have offered credits to overcome the debts that have grown during the pandemic. The author sees an opportunity for the US to reset its relations with African countries by allowing them access to vaccines. However, the fight against the pandemic should be coordinated with all parties’ participation, and cooperation must be ensured to recover the economies even after the pandemic.

By: Berat Karadeniz, CIGA Research Intern



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