Opinion: Why I’m An Invisible Man In The Global Vaccine Campaign

BY: Ifeanyi Nsofor —

I began my global health career as a surveillance officer with Nigeria’s National Programme on Immunization.

So of course I’ve been following the vaccine news with a close eye.

I was elated when the first COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be effective late last year. Knowing how effective vaccines can be in ending epidemics, I was hopeful that the end of the pandemic was in sight.

However, my joy was cut short when richer Western nations began buying up the vaccine doses. As a result, COVID-19 vaccines will not likely be widely available in Africa until 2022 or 2023.

I am shocked that these wealthier nations think this is the best way to protect their people from a global pandemic that does not respect borders. The Igbo people of Nigeria — my ethnic group — are always practical. An Igbo proverb comes to mind, as popularized by the late author Chinua Achebe: Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya. “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.”