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tv   Al Jazeera English News Bulletin  LINKTV  December 27, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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>> i am here with the headlines on al jazeera. u.s. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging with 120,000 infections reported every day, an increase of 40% on last month. >> omicron is increasing rapidly and we expect it to become the dominant strain in the u.s., as it has in other countries, in the coming weeks. we have seen cases of omicron among both those vaccinated and boosted.
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we believe these cases are milder or asymptomatic because of vaccine protection. host: the u.k. has seen a record number of covid-19 cases for the third day in a row. more than 93,000 infections were registered friday. total numbers nationwide have increased by about 39% in a week. the death rates remains relatively low. the u.n. human rights council has agreed to set up a commission to examine abuses in ethiopia's conflict. investigators say they received credible reports that all sides are committing violations against civilians. in the u.s., a former minneapolis police officer apologized in court for the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old black man during a traffic stop. she is facing charges of manslaughter for the death. she claims she meant to draw her taser instead of her gun. the seventh round of talks aimed at reviving the 2015 iran
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nuclear deal concluded in austria's capitol. the agreement sees iran limit its nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. the u.s. says it is prepared to talk to russia about its demands to curb nato activity in eastern europe. moscow announced proposals calling on nato to restrict activities in former soviet countries. and thousands of tunisians have been protesting on the 11th anniversary of the arab spring revolution. crowds and rallies both for and against the president. those are the headlines on al jazeera. more news on our website at al coming up next is inside story. stay with us. ♪
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>> could vaccine hesitancy derail africa's battle against covid-19? hundreds of millions of jabs are arriving at last, but africans are reluctant to get one. what is needed to turn things around? this is "inside story." ♪ hello and welcome to the program. developing nations in africa have waited months for covid-19 vaccines as richer countries hoarded supplies. the shots are arriving. the world health organization says 430 million doses have been
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delivered continent wide so far, but only 7% of africa's 1.3 billion population is fully inoculated, far behind the rest of the world. the w.h.o. wants 70%, but that is not expected to happen for another three years. hesitancy to get jabs is another problem. south africa delayed shipments from both pfizer and johnson & johnson because of concerns its stockpile may expire before being used. our correspondent found similar issues in senegal. correspondent: a precious and life-saving vaccine free of cost, and yet no one at this vaccination center wants to take it. some passerby's ask if the vaccine will make them sterile. others wonder if it will give them a heart attack or if they will go blind. despite her assurances the vaccine is safe, people don't trust her. >> so much misinformation, so
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much nonsense. talking about covid vaccines is like talking about politics. it has become an issue that divides people. we need to get vaccinated to protect ourselves and our loved ones. it is the only way. correspondent: among those reviews and to get vaccinated is a tv planted an emergency doctor. while he treats patients with covid-19, he is famous for his postings on social media. he argues as long as western pharmaceutical companies refuse to waive patents, they should not be trusted or used on africans. >> it is not a vaccine, it is a product being tested on people. that is why people are getting sick despite the vaccine. correspondent: too much misinformation and not enough vaccines means only 10% of africans have been vaccinated. nigeria is only inoculating an average of 1000 people a day. in senegal, more than 200,000
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expire doses have been destroyed. this is where the covid vaccine is being stored. they needs to be kept between two degrees and eight degrees celsius. the challenge is to get those vaccines in remote health centers, where the ambient temperature is around 40 to 30 degrees celsius. also it is a race against time for health workers to get as many people inoculated before these doses expire. for this nurse, the new variant is spreading faster than we think, partly because of widespread misinformation. this vaccine hesitancy has a cost, perhaps barely visible for now, but she fears a wave of infections lies ahead. host: the johnson & johnson vaccine is being manufactured in south africa. government leaders there pledged to donate 200 million doses to other african nations.
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we have more from johannesburg. correspondent: south africa manufactured just over 200 million doses of the johnson & johnson vaccine. the vaccines will be distributed to other african countries over the next year through the african union. so far, just 7% of africans have been fully vaccinated. this distribution is expected to benefit the most low income countries as soon as possible. that is despite the u.s. cdc flagging concerns about side effects and proposing other vaccines be used rather than j&j. south african experts say they have not seen any alarming signals. while they are aware of side effects, they are rare and the benefits of the j&j vaccine outweigh the risks. south africa's institute will start making the pfizer vaccine early next year. south africa's role will be to finish the vaccine manufacture process once the vaccine is
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received from europe. the world health organization is working on establishing africa's first covid vaccine technology hub. that is as vaccine companies have been criticized for not doing enough to help african and developing countries. while south africa will now play a greater role in the manufacture of vaccines, countries like india continue to push for vaccine waivers to allow for the manufacture of vaccines in more countries. there are companies in south africa trying to develop their own vaccines, but as long as pharmaceutical companies refused to share information on vaccines, the rollout of african manufactured vaccines will take far longer. ♪ host: let's numbering in our guest joining us from johannesburg, the chair of the regional immunization technical advisory for the world health organization. from nairobi, the cofounder of
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covid kenya. that is an association which uses social media to create awareness of covid issues. also from johannesburg, a lawyer with an interest in human rights and global health issues. thank you so much for speaking to us. if i may start with you, millions of vaccines have been dispersed across the african continent, yet vaccination rates stand at 7.3%. with many countries hovering around 1%, that according to data from the african centers for disease control. to what extent is vaccine hesitancy contributing to the low vaccination rate? >> one of the reasons for the low vaccination rate was the delays in getting vaccines to many countries. if we go back even further, that was a delay in global funding and the companies themselves sharing vaccines with the covax facility.
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that is the primary reason that pushed this delay. but now we are seeing some hesitancy. the hesitancy here has got a couple combination reasons. the first is that inn many settings, it's not easy to access vaccination services. we are talking about lower resource countries, where health systems were already under a lot of strain. that means a lot of people will have to queue. they will have to wait and clinics. they will have to travel long distances to try and get a vaccine. all of those things are disincentives. many people are former workers. if it takes a day to get a vaccine, that can mean you don't want to do it because that is a day's income,. there are real social drivers of hesitancy that we sometimes forget. we see throughout the world
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misinformation, disinformation, and then genuine reasons of hesitancy, such as, are the vaccines safe? where they developed to quickly? are they ok to give to my teenage children or to young adults? many legitimate questions we have to answer. host: all important points. what is your point of view on this? would you say vaccine hesitancy is a problem from what you have seen and the research you have done? >> i think vaccine hesitancy is an issue. thanks for explaining some of the issues that contribute to vaccine hesitancy. one of the issues i want to speak about is the issue of trust. there is a long history of mistrust between the communities who receive vaccines and medical
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services and the people who are behind the scientific research that is done in many parts of the world. everything from the kind of clinical trials that are done where people are subjected to clinical trials, we thought their concerns. these do not help in a pandemic, they make things much worse. i definitely agree, for me, trust is a very key issue communities have with many factual errors of vaccines. host: can you give us an overview of the situation in kenya? >> yes, it is similar in some ways to south africa. we have poorer infrastructure in some ways. hesitancy is quite mild, but the
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issue is about access and the delays in starting the vaccination program have been the same. in some ways we have this of the conspiracy theory stuff happening in kenya. in south africa, you have a constitution and people know their rights. here, the government has been threatening people, but people are not saying i have to look after my personal freedoms because we don't have a sense of that so strongly here. it is more people need reassurance and need the vaccines to be easily available. getting them out to remote counties and sparse populations is much harder. host: you spoke about some of the logistical problems facing some countries in africa. can you give us an overview or some context as to where we are with the vaccine rollout.
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are there some countries better equipped or supplied to look after their populations more so than others? >> yes. as you would imagine, the richer countries of the regions such as south africa have got better infrastructure. it has been easier, although not easy, to scale up a national program. as was said, many countries are small. we have areas that are conflict zones. many have sparse populations, migrant populations, nomadic populations which are difficult to access. south sudan at the moment have areas that have severe flooding. the road access during the rainy season is extremely difficult. for each country, there will be a specific diagnostic of how easy it is programmatically to get vaccines out. we do have the big experience of
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getting vaccinations out in every country across the region. in many countries, we had high rates of childhood immunization for many years, although we see in big countries like nigeria you might have higher rates around lagos, but lower rates once you get into other areas. we do have a backbone and learnings from that. we have tools developed by the world health organization and world bank that looked at country readiness to receive the vaccines, to store the vaccines, to roll out and communicate on vaccines. countries are doing self-assessment's before rolling out vaccines to remedy the areas which are weakest in terms of vaccine rollout. host: even though the world health organization has been warning that targets to vaccinate the continent would not be reached, would you agree
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that what you see on the ground confirms it is an uphill struggle going forward? >> it has been an uphill struggle. that is also because of access and because high income countries in the early part of the pandemic purchased many of the vaccines available, making them not available to groups. covax is a global initiative wanting to purchase vaccines for the african region. that has been one of the problems. we are seeing the flow of vaccines in the last quarter of last year and next year is beginning to increase. that is good news. we have seen high income countries offering donations of vaccines, which is great, and to be encouraged. one of the problems has been some of those donations have vaccines with short shelf lives. if you are in a setting where
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programmatically it is difficult to get vaccines out into the periphery, to mobilize clinics in communities, if you have a short shelf life, that has been quite a struggle. that has been discussed between recipient countries and donor countries as well. to be encouraged, we need to think about the logistics of what sort of vaccines will be suitable for a donation. host: you've said in an opinion piece that leaders in africa need to make health care a priority. what is the pandemic taught us about the state of health care in countries on the african continent? >> the state of health care leaves much to be desired. there are many structural issues that go back many decades that have not been resolved.
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i think when we have the pandemic, it exacerbates the situation that is already quite bad. everything from the fact that -- as i say in the opinion piece, there are not enough resources made available for health care a nd some of these structural policy decisions made when states shy away from budgeting. for example, there is a declaration where states committed to set aside 15% of their budgets for health care. this has not been happening. what has been happening is that the funds available for access to health care -- over years. the structural issues, the logistical challenges, the infrastructure challenges, but
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one of the things we have to speak about is the impact of conflict on the african continent. many countries have large geographical parts that are not accessible because of conflict. for these communities, it means for them health care workers -- host: let me ask you this, you also say that class to an extent, class and race help explain the mismatch between vaccine and tension and action. can you elaborate on that point? >> for me, the issue is we see the impact of politics of class and race playing a role. we see how western nations are able to halt vaccines in collusion with vaccine manufacturers. even when vaccines are
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available, enterprise is more in african continents. african countries have to pay more for vaccines, yet they are still not available. the people who are prepared to pay less have the vaccines in greater numbers. we see the people who are excluded from health care, so the notion that if we vaccinate one part of the world and in the global north, these people that live in that part of the world will be ticketed from the pandemic -- be protected from the pandemic. with the new omicron variant, cases are surging forward. people start to realize an actual effect the message that has been passed by a lot of activists that no one is safe until everyone is safe is actually true.
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now people are trying to play catch-up, but i lost has been -- a lot has been lost already. host: i'd like to go into more detail on this particular issue, and that is the economic reasons. to extend our economic reasons play a role? some people are reluctant to give up a day's work to travel and take a vaccine, aren't they? >> yes, especially when there is uncertainty that you would get the vaccine at the end of the day. at the moment, we are not well organized in kenya. we have a backbone of vaccine rollouts, but that is usually childhood vaccinations. the expectation is young mothers would bring in a child on a weekday. that is a normal low-level thing. but now we are looking at a mass addled vaccination. we need vaccination centers open on weekends and easier to reach
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places so that even in the cities people are saying i can spend half a day going somewhere and i don't know if i can get the vaccine. i don't know where to direct people because that information is constantly changing and not easily available. that is multiplied if you are in a rural area and need to travel. if you have health care and know you are ok if you get side effects, then you will be more comfortable to get a vaccine. one of the rumors going around is you will have side effects, you may not be able to work. that is affecting poorer people who don't trust the health care system. host: isn't that, the case this distrust? it predates covid and vaccinations, doesn't it? >> it is a little bit different in kenya.
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generally i think trust is very important, but people are very afraid from the pandemic. economics comes into that. our economy has been hit really hard. we have not seen that many cases in kenya in the same way, so we are not as frightened of covid itself. that is a problem. people are not as worried about it, so they are not taking the measures. at the same time, people are exhausted. creating an extra thing that causes uncertainty is difficult. there is not much trust in the government. there is actually distrust. the government says something, people are suspicious. host: moderna said it was working on plans to bottle doses of its covid vaccine somewhere on the african continent. that could take place as soon as 2023. is that going to make a difference for those people who
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remain vaccine hesitant and don't trust the western pharmaceutical companies? >> if you mentioned moderna, moderna of course would be regarded as a western vaccine, but also 2023 is a long way off. we got 2022 in which we need to get nearly as many of the world's population to have a basic primary series of a vaccine. this should be about any vaccine available. the reason we are saying take the vaccines that are available is nearly all the vaccines have a positive impact on reducing severe disease and hospitalization. that is still what we are focusing on, particularly in our region of not overwhelming our health services. the health services are already overstretched and have limited resources. if you get a huge wave of unvaccinated people, it will be the unvaccinated that will be admitted to the hospital.
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that would quickly overwhelm a limited resource setting. in terms of moderna, it is a good vaccine. but 2023 is a bit too far away. i think most of us would have preferred to see vaccines like the moderna vaccine at an earlier stage in the continent. host: would you like to weigh in? i saw you nodding. >> we have some people worrying about which vaccine they are going to get. we are encouraging people to get what they can get easily. i don't think that is a huge concern. the general concern is about side effects. we can reassure people when they see others that have been vaccinated. i agree, 2023, we need things much faster than that. host: final word to you, i saw you nodding along as well.
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>> i think it is high time we accept that we do not have the luxury of time. i think multiple waves of covid continue to show this to us. it is about time that governments take on the responsibility of providing health care. we have to accept that the free market policies that are so infused into public health, where we have to depend on companies to provide vaccines, is not working for the majority of people. host: right, but these calls you make to scale up the public health system, is that possible given the amount of stress the systems are under right now? >> if we don't do that, then we collapse what little health care systems we have. we don't have the luxury of time.
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i don't think we can sit back and say because you are in the middle of the pandemic, we cannot be doing this. i think this moment of public health crisis should be a wake-up call and we should be looking at solutions today. we cannot be waiting until 2023 to get people vaccinated. no one knows what a new mutation of the virus will be like in 2022. it could really overwhelm the public health systems once again. host: we will leave it there. thank you so much for joining us. we appreciate your time. thank you for watching. you can see the program again any time by visiting al for further discussion, go to our facebook page. you can join the conversation on twitter. from myself and the whole team, thanks for watching and goodbye for now.
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