Photo Credit: Steven Cornfield
The Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, has appealed to the US President Joe Biden to use the immense wealth and power of the United States to ensure that South Africa and other countries that desperately need coronavirus vaccines have access to them. Speaking to the online publication The Intercept, Archbishop Thabo said, “I would say to President Biden: ‘You have an amazing opportunity to be a force for good in the world. So we are appealing to you…look at those that are suffering and ensure that there is access, particularly to the global south, to this lifesaving vaccine.’”
Archbishop Thabo is specifically requesting that the Biden administration make the Moderna vaccine available in South Africa. He wants the Moderna vaccine because it is 94 per cent effective. Until recently, South Africa was preparing to begin injections of the Oxford / Astra-Zeneca vaccine, but the government halted the rollout because that vaccine has been shown to provide only minimal protection against a variant of the coronavirus first discovered in South Africa.
According to The Intercept, under a law known as Section 1498, the US government has the right to override a patent at any time as long as the company receives reasonable compensation. The provision would allow the US to permit low-cost competition on the vaccine.
Archbishop Thabo said that the crisis reminds him of apartheid because, he said: “these vaccines that are available to the global north and the west and available by Moderna reminds me that we are saying, like apartheid, ‘Hey, you guys are not human enough. Wait a bit.’”.