Omicron variant, Amref: “It is a sign to be grasped, in Africa social injustice”

Guglielmo Micucci: “Accelerating vaccination processes, in the continent the countryside is proceeding extremely slowly”

In Africa, the vaccination campaign “goes extremely slow”, we are facing a “social injustice” and the Omicron variant identified in South Africa “is a signal, regardless of the danger, of what can happen”. We should “begin to pick up on these signals to speed up vaccination processes”. This is how he talks with Adnkronos Guglielmo Micucci, director of Amref Health Africa in Italy, who explains the “series of reasons” why the vaccination campaign in Africa “goes very slowly”, starting with “the battle that Amref and many other organizations lead. ahead in these weeks “, or that for the” lack of doses “.

But that’s not the only question. “There is – he says – the management of the cold cycle, the infrastructures, the various health systems, the training of health personnel”. Africa is “much more complex than a single country” and “on a continental level we are still around 7%” of the fully vaccinated population, compared – Micucci notes – to a “global average of between 55 and 60%. “, but if South Africa is” around 23-25% and Morocco around 60%, there are dozens of countries that do not reach 5%, 2% and South Sudan is less than 1% “. “There is – he denounces – an objective social injustice due to an unequal distribution, also considering that in the various stocks and warehouses of the West there are hundreds of millions of unused doses that will expire”.

The G20 countries have reaffirmed the goal of vaccinating at least 40% of the world population by the end of 2021 and 70% by the middle of next year. On the first objective, “we will never make it because there is a month left and 40% is utopia”, observes Micucci, who speaks of “a beautiful promise that creates further frustration because it will be the umpteenth promise not respected”. The second, on the other hand, “can be achieved”, but only – he warns – “if today we decide not to deny a further dose”.

“We are short-sighted – he insists – if we do not definitively realize that we will be saved if we save ourselves all together”. A “beautiful” phrase, he says, that “we keep repeating”, but that “must become action” in order not to remain “just propaganda”. “It is truly an injustice – he continues – it is a denial of a right”. And in Africa it is therefore necessary to “strengthen health systems through the training of health personnel” on vaccination issues, he continues, with the thought turned to what “has been done in Italy with pharmacists and other categories” because “teaching vaccination processes is a something that can be done in the short term “and” organizations like Amref can make a great contribution “. Now Amref, the largest African organization dealing with health in Africa, is committed to “supporting governments” in the areas in which it operates, which “to varying degrees are around the 35 countries of sub-Saharan Africa”, above all “to facilitate the vaccine application “. Because, he explains, “even in Africa there are resistance, fears, on the vaccine issue” and Amref works with its staff to “facilitate the vaccine demand so that when governments decide to make a gesture of normality , with the sharing of vaccine doses “, we arrive at” also in Africa the queues outside the hospitals to be vaccinated “.

And “vaccination doses must be released so that it is not just a one-off gesture by a state that decides to donate the missing doses”, notes Micucci, inviting to focus on “already organized systems that exist”, starting with Covax. And then, he adds, “there is all the infrastructure to protect the future of the African continent and the world” because “if we are able to work, for example through the suspension of patents, through a technology transfer in the countries that today are capable of implanting factories, manage vaccination productions, such as South Africa and Senegal, then at that point we can also do a job of preventing what could happen in the future “.

We must “open our eyes and act because we already know what must be done with all the risks” and “we must do it now, it must be done today, it must be started immediately”, as well as “we must not do what is happening these days on South Africa, a country at the forefront in Africa on technological and scientific issues that had the important ability to recognize that variant, which immediately communicated it as required by international protocols “triggering the” first action by European countries ” “blocking the possibility of moving from South Africa to Europe”. It is not, he concludes, “a beautiful gesture to facilitate and support those who carry out scientific research and those who are ready to communicate and share information”.