«Unvaccinated Africa will become an incubator of variants and sooner or later will present the bill to Europe and the entire world». These were the words of Jacques Dubochet of Switzerland, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2017, who tomorrow will be in Lugano for a conference held at Università dell’USI. The distribution and administration «variable geometry» of COVID-19 vaccines therefore remains, even in Dubochet’s opinion, of great relevance, especially after the development of variants of the virus, such as the recent case of the Delta strain which, after being detected for the first time in India, reached the United States, then the UK and finally all of Europe, spreading at a faster rate than before, increasing the number of hospitalized and dead people and plunging everyone back into despair. And already there is talk of a new mutation, called «Mu» or «Colombian», because of its origin. The WHO defines it as «potentially resistant to vaccines». Let us hope that it is only a responsible alert intended to pass without too much damage. In any case, one of the major effects of the pandemic has been to make very clear the dynamics of the globalized society: we all find ourselves, at every level, in a critical situation that can no longer be experienced in the local dimension only, but must be handled and governed with a de facto intercontinental strategy.

Certainly, the key questions about the speed of contagion of the most recent variants, on their ability to bypass the immunity produced by vaccines and their ability to cause more serious consequences deserve timely answers from scientific research. But in the midst of a crisis that is, in fact, without borders (and which sees many nations closing in on themselves more and more, with bangs of the population viewing vaccines with fear or suspicion), it is impossible not to consider with concern the terrible figure that sees Africa - 1.3 billion inhabitants - with just 3% of its population immunized, with the rate of positives galloping day after day.

To think that the Mediterranean is there to defend us from this potentially explosive situation is truly naive. It is now estimated that the African continent needs 1.5 billion doses to completely vaccinate 60% of the population and reach a minimum threshold of herd immunity.

The numbers would be staggering if we were not in an even more ironic situation, with rich Western countries that keep in storage doses to immunize up to ten times their citizens. And it has already happened that entire batches have expired and therefore have been destroyed. Events that are frankly unspeakable. Not to mention the 100 million unused doses that still carry the expiration date of December 31, 2021. Of these, 40% are found in Europe.

Africa has the opposite problem: its coverage is extremely limited due to the real scarcity of vaccines. It is clearly not just a problem of logistics, rationalization of production and transport: politics also plays a role. So much so that in recent days the American president Joe Biden - during the virtual summit focused on the end of the pandemic on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly - has pledged to donate 500 million doses to developing countries, with the aim of achieving a worldwide vaccination rate of 70%. Time will tell if words will be followed by deeds and if good intentions will be rewarded. But Biden’s vision is undoubtedly farsighted: a global problem cannot be solved with exclusively local solutions.

Unvaccinated Africa could soon present the bill to Europe and the entire world.

©CdT.ch - Riproduzione riservata
Ultime notizie: OnTheSpot
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