Rwandan President, Paul Kagame has faulted vaccine COVID-19 inequity and called on rich countries to do more to hasten the distribution of COVID-19 vaccination in Africa.
Kagame, in a live televised interview with national broadcaster RBA on Sunday, admitted the role that bilateral donations and the WHO-administered COVAX scheme have played in channeling vaccines to Africa but described progress to that end as “too slow” and “frustrating.”
The president also condemned wealthy countries for administering so-called ‘booster shots’ to their populations, a decision that has been criticised by global health bodies as premature, has now been recognised as the fact that many developing nations have not yet been able to administer even initial doses in substantial amount.
Kagame who explained that while Rwanda could not stop other countries from administering booster shots, urged them to “remember that there are those who have not had anything at all.”
He noted that local manufacturing of vaccines could help build African countries’ resilience to future outbreaks and help to level the public health playing field, adding that, even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rwanda had plans to develop its own manufacturing plant for essential medicines and vaccines.
“He added that these vaccines can be manufactured in Africa and serve Africa first.” Kagame also explained that local production was a viable medium and long-term solution to the “urgent problem” of vaccine scarcity on the continent.
When asked whether there may be a time in the future when COVID-19 vaccination will become mandatory for Rwandans, the president said the country’s problem was not vaccine hesitancy but rather the lack of sufficient doses for its population.