South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said on Monday that if wealthy nations hogged COVID-19 jabs while millions in poor countries died waiting for them, it would amount to “vaccine apartheid”.
South Africa and India have been pushing for a waiver on some intellectual property (IP) rights for vaccines and medicines at the World Trade Organisation.
United States (US) President Joe Biden backed the proposal last week, though it may still take months to reach a deal.
Ramaphosa called on South Africans to support the waiver in a weekly newsletter, saying vaccines should be “a global public good”.
“It is about affirming our commitment to the advancement of equality and human rights, not just in our own country but around the world,’’ he wrote.
“A situation in which the populations of advanced and rich countries are safely inoculated while millions in poorer countries die in the queue would be tantamount to vaccine apartheid.’’