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Covid-19: Africa secures about 300 million vaccine doses

Leave a comment / By: manifel / 13 January, 2021 13:16:37PM
Covid-19: Africa secures about 300 million vaccine doses

The African Union has secured close to 300 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, a top official for Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said on Tuesday, January 13. 

Nicaise Ndembi, senior science adviser for the Africa CDC noted that the current AU chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, is expected to announce detailed information of the news on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.  

He pointed out that 300 million doses are being secured independently of the global COVAX effort aimed at distributing Covid-19 vaccines to lower-income countries.  

When pressed for details on the distributor and the cost for the vaccine, Ndembi said, “We have reached the final stage of our deals.” 

The news comes as coronavirus infections spike again in parts of Africa, especially South Africa, where a rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus now makes up most of the new cases.

Statistics from the World Health Organisation indicate that Africa has confirmed more than 3 million cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 1.2 million in South Africa.

According to Ndembi, the doses will be readily available by the end of the first quarter. 

However, he added that they will be allocated on the continental platform recently set up by the AU to make it easier for Africa’s 54 countries to pool their purchasing power and buy pandemic supplies in bulk.

The deal is an alternative to the COVAX facility. 

“We’re expecting 600 million doses from the COVAX facility,” he said, but African officials are still waiting on the details, so “we’re happy we have alternative solutions.”

So far, Ndembi revealed that African officials have approached at least 10 vaccine manufacturers and developers as the continent seeks to vaccinate 60% of its population of 1.3 billion people, or about 780 million people. 

Rwanda, which announced plans to acquire the vaccine by the end of the first quarter, seeks to vaccinate at-least 20 per cent of the country’s population for the first phase. 

At the time the country said that it had already submitted all the necessary requirements to the COVAX framework. 

2-year target

According to the Africa CDC, some 1.5 billion doses are needed to ensure that 60 per cent of the continent is vaccinated from the viral virus. 

This is estimated at slightly over $10 billion.

Ndembi said he’s very optimistic that can be achieved within two years. 

Reports indicate that Africa has scrambled on multiple fronts to obtain vaccine supplies. 

In a recent interview, Ramaphosa said the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team recently created under the AU “has done tremendous work to secure vaccine doses” through what he called intensive engagement with manufacturers.

“Given the massive global demand for vaccines and the vastly greater purchasing power of wealthier countries, we are exploring all avenues to get as many vaccine doses as soon as possible,” Ramaphosa said.

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