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A Kenyan Living in the US on the Two Sides of the Vaccine Coin

Of the 3.5 billion people already vaccinated worldwide, only 1.6% are in African countries. New cases have been surging for eight straight weeks on the continent, leading to a fresh wave of lockdowns, overwhelmed healthcare systems, lost livelihoods and — worst of all — a large death toll. In the past week alone, fatalities were up more than 40%. Many of these could have been prevented if more Africans were vaccinated. Around half of all Americans are now fully vaccinated. Here in Kenya, that figure stands at just 1.1% of the population. While wealthy countries are dropping all restrictions and reopening their societies because most adults are fully inoculated, new cases are rising at the fastest rate ever across Africa, where very few people are vaccinated. Some Americans are even getting bribed with beer, doughnuts or cash to get Covid-19 shots when many Africans would happily take them for free if they were available. While the world’s wealthiest appear to be entering a post-pandemic life, the rest of us in the Global South are still in the throes of a devastating crisis with no way out for the foreseeable future. The highly transmissible Delta variant has now been detected in 21 African countries, and counting. The biggest lesson for Africa, some leaders here say, is that it is on its own, and there’s no such thing as global solidarity when people are at their most vulnerable.