The IFRC statement was a response to a report in The New York Times that said most doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine produced at a plant in South Africa are being exported to Europe.
Jagan Chapagain, secretary-general of the IFRC, said, “We have long been calling for companies to consider manufacturing doses in regions that remain inequitably served of COVID-19 vaccines. That they should then be exported to regions that have vaccinated a majority of their population is incomprehensible. The African continent is still the most underserved in terms of receiving doses — barely 2% of people across the region have been vaccinated.”
In the United States, the Biden administration is to require that all staff in nursing homes and care facilities that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients be vaccinated or the homes could lose the federal funding that helps pay the costs of patient care.
Medicare and Medicaid are government programs that provide assistance with healthcare costs for the elderly and people with limited incomes and resources.
The new requirement is part of administration efforts to get more people vaccinated in order to stem the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 98.8% of all new COVID-19 cases in the United States are due to the delta variant.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced plans to begin offering booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting eight months after an individual’s second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.
U.S. health officials said booster shots will also likely be needed for people who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Officials expect to see more data on Johnson & Johnson in the next few weeks before they announce a decision.
“The Biden administration’s decision to authorize booster shots for all Americans threatens to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots,” said Sarah Swinehart, senior director of communications, North America, at The ONE Campaign, in a statement.
“It’s outrageous that a healthy, vaccinated individual will be able to get a third shot before the elderly and health workers in low-income countries can get a single dose,” she said. “The fact that the U.S. and other wealthy countries are in need of booster shots is an indictment of the world’s failure to have a global plan to end this virus.”
Pope Francis said people who get the coronavirus vaccine would be committing “an act of love” towards their fellow men and women.
The pontiff made the personal appeal in a filmed public service message that was released Wednesday online and on television.
“Thanks to God’s grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from Covid-19,” Pope Francis said in the message, which he made on behalf of the U.S.-based nonprofit group the Ad Council. He said the vaccines “bring hope to end the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another.”
The pontiff added that getting vaccinated “is a simple yet profound way to care for one another, especially the most vulnerable.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed Wednesday that a 58-year-old man who became the first to test positive for COVID-19 since February was infected with the highly contagious delta variant. The news was announced on the first day of a strict three-day nationwide lockdown imposed by Ardern. Auckland, the country’s largest city, and the coastal town of Coromandel, where the infected man also visited, will be shut down for a full week.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, VOA, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.