Covid: Why boosters for richest countries could leave many of world's poorest without a first dose

ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports from Kenya on the potential global implications of Covid vaccine inequality

It is, for the moment, business as usual along the street of coffin-makers in a Nyeri, a town a few hours drive from Kenya's capital, Nairobi. 

The sounds of saws and planes and hammers reverberate while Moses Muraya, who has run a workshop here for 25 years, sits quietly and reflects on the two waves of Covid-19 that hit here.

"It has not been a happy time," he says.

It is a considerable understatement.

The street of coffins-makers in a Nyeri, a town a few hours drive from Nairobi. 

Colleague Zipporah Macharia, agrees: "To lose so many people, it was not good."

Mr Muraya says demand rose by 50%.

Local pastor, Peter Theo, tells us: "We are praying so much. Praying to God. Asking God to put off the Covid."

He has also been urging his followers at the Victorious Lord Seekers Ministry to put their faith in the vaccine.

But some – by force - have had to suspend that secular act of belief.

Local pastor, Peter Theo, says they are praying to ask God "to put off the Covid". 

Chatting to people around the local market we find some who are happily vaccinated, others who are reluctant to bare their arm, and others who would have it, if only they’d had the chance.

Kenya – like almost all of Africa – has suffered from a crippling supply problem.

Although the situation is easing, the country has fully protected just four percent of the adult population. It is a similarly dismal record across much of the continent.

Dr Willis Akhwale, who leads the country’s Vaccine Taskforce, tells me it will be another year before the vaccine programme is complete.

"We are hearing of countries administering their third doses and if they do that we are not sure there will even be a first dose for some of the population at risk in Africa."

Dr Willis Akhwale says it will be at least a year until the vaccine programme is complete.

That’s a pointed reference to the UK’s drive to administer booster shots ahead of our northern hemisphere winter.

Campaigners blame the developed world for stockpiling vaccines.

Global Justice Now argues that drug companies should share their patents; a move they say is opposed by the UK and EU.

The good news for Africa is that Covid case numbers have, for now, dropped significantly while vaccine supplies in September showed a 10 fold increase on June, according to the World Health Organization.

Still just two percent of the six billion doses administered globally have been injected into African arms.

At a local hospital we see the rows of beds in the Covid wards ready for another wave.

The coffin-makers of Nyeri are also prepared for Covid’s return.

It is the vaccination programme that needs to catch up, quickly.

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