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UK to keep trashing Africa’s vaccine certificates

Out of more than 70 countries given the greenlight on vaccine certificates, none is from Africa.
The United Kingdom (UK) will continue rubbishing Covid-19 vaccination certificates from Africa, even as it began adopting a new system of admittance for international travellers.
In a list publicised on Monday night, the UK government said only people vaccinated with adequate doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and John & Johnson (Janssen) will be considered inoculated, as long as they come from a region whose vaccination programme is approved by the UK.
And of the more than 70 countries that are approved, none is from Africa, a continent where the UK has heavily supported with vaccine donations and other logistical support through the Covax programme.
“You must be able to prove that you’ve been fully vaccinated under a vaccination programme with approved proof of certification,” says a notice from the UK’s Department of Transport.
“To qualify under the fully vaccinated rules for travel to England, you must have been fully vaccinated with a full course of an approved vaccine in the UK or one of the countries and territories listed below.”
The new policy does not bar Africans from travelling to the UK per se, but it means even those fully vaccinated by doses donated by the UK will be forced to isolate at their places of residence and take two Covid-19 tests. In fact, only travellers from Kenya and Egypt will initially be given this easier option of isolating at home.
The rest of the continent may be barred or be asked to quarantine at hotels approved by the government since they are listed as being on the ‘Red list’ of countries considered too risky.
British officials last week said they were “seeking to extend recognition of vaccine certificates around the world as rapidly as possible.”
But no timelines have been given, causing frustration among travellers from Africa and South America, the two regions hardest hit by the UK’s exclusionary policy on Covid-19 vaccine certificates.
Last month, the UK removed Kenya and Egypt in Africa from the ‘red list’, five months after the two countries were fingered for having loose checks on travellers. But while the change was welcome due to easing of travel costs, the two countries, like others in Africa, will not benefit from the full privileges accorded to those considered to be fully vaccinated. These privileges include no need to provide PCR certificates, retesting or isolating.
The list of countries includes nearly all of the Middle East, US, UK’s overseas territories, Japan, Canada, Australia and most of Europe. It excludes Africa entirely, China (Taiwan is approved), Russia, Brazil, Pakistan and India, the latter which has produced a significant number of AstraZeneca doses for the Covax facility.
It means that even those inoculated with Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, or China’s Sinovac, will not be considered vaccinated by the UK.
“You can still travel to England if you do not qualify as fully vaccinated but you must follow different rule,” the notice said, referring to the required tests and isolation for travellers.
One will be fully vaccinated, under the UK policy, if they had taken full doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen, at least 14 days before arrival.
Last week, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) warned the UK’s policy could slow or reverse the fight against the pandemic.
“We are deeply concerned that policies and rules such as this carry a risk of deepening vaccines hesitancy across Africa and creates distrust in the community. Given the severe consequences of the rules, the Africa CDC therefore urges the UK government to a) reconsider their decision and b) discuss with the African Union to how to ensure mutual recognition of vaccines provided through its donations.”
On Monday, it emerged that just 15 of 54 countries in Africa have reached their Covid-19 vaccination targets of innoculating at least ten per cent of their population by the end of September.
Data from the World Health Organisation shows that only Seychelles and Mauritius had vaccinated more than 60 per cent of their people by end of September. Morocco, Tunisia, Comoros and Cape Verde had also surpassed their local targets.
The pattern was more successful for countries with smaller populations and that were beneficiaries of Covax donations as well as other sources. –