In DepthCOVID-19

Deaths of health workers in Africa highlight vaccine inequity

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Science  19 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6531, pp. 764-765
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6531.764

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Summary

On 26 January, James Gita Hakim, chair of the department of medicine at the University of Zimbabwe, died from COVID-19. The exact toll of COVID-19 among health workers is hard to gauge, but Hakim was one of several prominent doctors to succumb in Africa, where a second wave of the pandemic is now hitting. His death highlights a stark reality in the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. Countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas have administered more than 175 million shots to protect people against COVID-19 since December 2020, with most countries giving priority to medical workers. But not a single country in sub-Saharan Africa has started immunizations—South Africa will be the first, this week—leaving health care workers dying in places where they are scarce to begin with.

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