Coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the African Union (AU) will be allocated according to countries’ population size, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Friday, speaking in his capacity as AU chair.

He said vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca would be available this year, but did not specify how much each African country would get.

“The Africa CDC has already worked out the allocations that each country will be able to get, and the allocation is going to be worked on the size of your population,” Ramaphosa said, referring to the AU’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

No African countries have begun large-scale coronavirus vaccination campaigns and the AU’s 270 million shots, if administered two per person, would still only cover around 10% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.

Vaccines Not the magic bullet

CDC director John Nkengasong meanwhile cautioned that vaccines would not be a magic bullet for Africa as it would take time for the jabs to be rolled out and that the second wave of infections had not yet peaked.

Africa’s confirmed cases have passed 3.1 million, with more than 76,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Ramaphosa also indicated that the AU would access vaccines from China.

“China will also be part of that, although they will join later.”

South Africa, according to Ramaphosa, plans to access doses via three sources: the AU arrangement, the COVAX facility co-led by the World Health Organization, and direct deals with manufacturers.

“We have decided that we should have a multi-supplier process … we are already getting ready for the distribution (and) the vaccination programme.”

South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections in Africa, roughly 1.3 million cases, and around 36,000 deaths.

This week, a professor from the University of Pretoria (UP) warned the country is on course for a “third, even a fourth wave.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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