Meeting of the High-Level Group of Personalities: Background Note for Thematic Focus on Health

The global pandemic is far from over. Despite early successes in limiting the spread of COVID 19, many African countries struggle to contain the virus as new, more infectious variants emerge. The Ibrahim Governance Weekend focus on ‘One year on from COVID in Africa’, will explore pathways out of the pandemic. In this context, the Africa-Europe Foundation High-Level Group of Personalities (HLG) will meet to discuss a shared vision for future global health governance.

2020 was supposed to be the year a rejuvenated Africa-Europe partnership took pride of place on the world stage. However, the official rhetoric of solidarity and messages that ‘we will not truly be safe until all of us are safe’i was undermined by the policy reality that saw vaccine doses bought overwhelmingly in the Global North, at the expense of the rest of the world.

The EU has given at least one vaccine dose to more than 35% of their adult population, a stark contrast with Africa, where less than 2% of the population have received a vaccineii. The EU has made much of the fact that 240 million vaccine doses have been exported, ‘as much as have been given to Europeans’iii, only 77 million have been channelled through COVAX to 127 participating countriesiv – leaving African countries who have signed up to the facility waiting for deliveries.

UNICEF commissioned research that shows that G7 nations and ‘Team Europe’ group of European Union Member States could donate around 153 million vaccine doses if they shared just 20 per cent of their available supply over June, July and August. Critically, they could do so while still meeting their commitments to vaccinate their own populations.

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