On the 9th of September 2021, the BRICs countries namely Brazil, Russian, India, China and South Africa held a virtual Summit due to the Covid-19 pandemic limitations. The event that also marked the 15th anniversary since the formation of the bloc ended with a strong declaration on a number of issues including fashioning a responsive global response against the pandemic; fostering multilateralism and countering violent extremism and terrorism.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the health, economic, and political wellbeing of poor countries- exacerbating existing fragilities and vulnerabilities. According to the World Bank, over 150 million people will slip back into extreme poverty worldwide. It is such ominous projections as well already recorded calamities that global synergy against the pandemic is
Today, vaccinations are considered to be the most sustainable way out of the pandemic. In Africa, the commodities are still hard to come by. While a total of 5.86 billion Covid-19 dosses have been administered globally, with a daily inoculation rate of 29.91 million doses; only 1.9% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.
As the BRICS Summit declaration aptly stated, in an interconnected and globalized world, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Delay in vaccinations will only allow the virus to mutate and spread, making harder and longer to contain. The BRICS countries have what it takes to help speed up inoculations around the world. All the BRICS countries are vaccine producers either independently or in partnership.
China is today the major supplier of Covid-19 vaccines to developing economies. Beijing has so far delivered over 797 million doses of vaccines to other countries with donations standing at 68 million doses, according to Bridge Consulting firm. In Africa, China still leads as the biggest supplier with 56.9 million doses delivered to 42 countries in the continent.
India was the main bet for the access to vaccines by poor countries through the Covax facility.
However, faced with huge pandemic challenges at home, the ability of India to meet mounting demand of the commodities has remained dismal. Covax has since revised downwards the vaccine delivery targets for 2021; causing much anxiety in low resourced countries.
South Africa and Brazil have become manufacturing hubs through partnerships – initiatives that could significantly amplify production and distribution of the commodities in respective regions.
The decision to ensure the South African produced vaccines are distributed in Africa – with earlier shipments to Europe returned to the continent is a step in the right direction.
Western countries continue to value-lace donation and sale of vaccines to developing countries, with promises running into months before delivery. It is time for BRICS to step up and show solidarity with the deserving yet struggling communities around the world.
China has fully vaccinated one billion people at home and continues to maintain the most effective pandemic measures in the world. Beijing therefore has significant headroom to extend a helping hand to other countries, backed by its massive production and logistics capacity.
BRICS should also double down on their support for multilateralism, as this is the most rational way to manage cross boarder problems facing the world. The move by China,
India and South Africa to champion ongoing discussions by World Trade Organization on a COVID-19 vaccine Intellectual Property Rights waiver is a step in the right direction and could unlock the hoarding puzzle of the vaccines by rich countries.
Multilateralism is also the key other challenges such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and global economic inequality.
Beyond pushing for access to vaccines and other commodities needed in the management of the pandemic, BRICS can also be a source of the much-needed investments to promote economic recovery from the global health crisis. As the most visible contributor to global economic growth in the coming years, China can leverage BRICS institutions such as the New Development Bank to front development assistance and capital flows to distressed economies.
As a major grouping of emerging economies in the world, BRICS countries easily understand the distress that other developing countries are experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is on this basis that the bloc should extend a hand to their contemporaries occasioned by the
The writer is a scholar of international relations with a focus on China-Africa cooperation.