Source: Global Times 20-Dec-2021
Original link: https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202112/1242801.shtml
Turkey will send 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday at a major summit of the continent's leaders, adding that the low vaccination rates there were a blot on humanity.
Ankara has invested heavily in developing trade and diplomatic ties with the world's poorest continent during Erdogan's rule as prime minister and then president since 2003.
Speaking to dozens of attending leaders and ministers, Erdogan said Turkey would ship 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa, where cases are rapidly rising and vaccination rates are low.
"We are aware of the global injustice in accessing the COVID-19 vaccine and Africa's unjust treatment," Erdogan said.
"It is disgraceful for humanity that only 6 percent of Africa's population has been vaccinated."
Turkey is developing its own vaccine, known as Turkovac, which is in the process of receiving emergency use approval.
Following any authorization, it will be shared with Africa, Erdogan said.
It was not immediately clear from his remarks whether Turkey would first send some doses of the internationally approved vaccines it was currently using, including those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.
"In order to contribute to the resolution of this issue, within our means, we plan to share 15 million vaccine doses in the period ahead," he said.
The number of new infections in Africa has shot up by 57 percent in the past week, according to AFP calculations based on official figures.
South Africa is the hardest-hit country, becoming one of the first in the world affected by the new Omicron variant, which is believed to be even more contagious than past coronavirus strains.
Erdogan said Turkey wanted to strengthen relations with Africa in a wide range of areas including health, defense, energy, agriculture and technology.
In a final declaration, Turkey and African countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in several fields, including health "through further health sector investments."