‘Vaccine apartheid’: Africans Tell UN They Need Vaccines

President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa speaks via video link during the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. (Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)

The inequity of COVID-19 vaccine distribution came into sharp focus Thursday as many of the African countries whose populations have little to no access to the life-saving shots stepped to the podium to speak at the U.N.’s annual meeting of world leaders.

Already, the struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic has featured prominently in leaders’ speeches this week. Several African leaders, including South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, urged U.N. member states on Thursday to support a proposal to temporarily waive certain intellectual property rights established by the World Trade Organization to allow more countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries, to produce COVID-19 vaccines.


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