Africa has so far made strides in acquiring a COVID-19 vaccine, as the African Union (AU) has announced that 270 million people will be receive treatment for the virus.
In his capacity as AU Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the doses would be an addition to the COVAX facility, which is the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) initiative aimed at pooling resources and funds and ultimately securing at least 2 billion vaccines by the end of 2021.
The vaccines will be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
“From the onset of this pandemic, our focus as a continent has been on collaboration and collective effort. We have held steadfastly to the principle that no country should be left behind,” Ramaphosa said.
“With this in mind, we have not only campaigned vigorously for changes through all the available international forums, but we have taken the additional step to independently secure vaccines using our own limited resources as member states”
AU Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa established the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) in August 2020 to ensure that Africa would be able to secure sufficient COVID-19 vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.
Africa expecting 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from April 2021
This latest development on Africa’s procurement of a COVID-19 vaccine is considered a massive feat for the continent as experts had previously expressed concern over its ability to manage the virus, citing its poor healthcare system.
All 270 million vaccine doses will be made available this year with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021.
Afreximbank, a continental financial institution, will help facilitate the purchase of the vaccines, on behalf of member states. Afreximbank will provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of member states.
Upon delivery of the vaccines, member states may pay using their internal resources or access an instalment payment facility of up to five years offered by the institution.
“I wish to commend the members of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, Afreximbank, Africa CDC and all those who have been working tirelessly to secure these vaccines for the people of Africa. There is a long road ahead, but as Africa we are now seeing progress in our shared effort to defeat this disease,” Ramaphosa concluded.