The African Union has acquired 270 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, India, and Johnson & Johnson. The announcement was made by the President-in-Office of the organization, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.
Africa does not want to be the last in the race to acquire the coronavirus vaccine. “Through our own efforts, we have so far secured a tentative commitment of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers, Pfizer, AstraZeneca (via Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson,” said the South-African, Cyril Ramaphosa. The acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines was funded through a mechanism established by the African Union (AU), in partnership with Afreximbank and the World Bank.
These doses are in addition to the 600 million doses already promised but still do not suffice to vaccinate the entire region. The poorest may take much longer to get the vaccine.Although the number of infections and deaths is comparatively lower in most African countries, the number of cases is increasing daily in some countries. Moreover, the new variant of Covid-19 discovered in South Africa is particularly worrying because of its rapid spread.
It should be noted that the initiative launched by the African Union is different from the World Health Organization (WHO) Covax system and private partners, for equitable access to vaccines. The WHO aims to provide doses for up to 20% of the population of the participating countries by the end of the year, with funding for these vaccines being provided for the world’s 92 poorest or wealthiest countries.
The WHO announced that the first doses to countries would arrive between the end of January and mid-February. “If the Covax initiative is essential for Africa, The African Union fears that the volumes that will be available between February and June will not exceed the needs of caregivers and will therefore not be sufficient to contain the growing numbers of the pandemic in Africa,” said a South African Presidency statement.African.
With a population of 1.3 billion and each person in need of two shots of vaccine, Africa would need about 2.6 billion doses to be able to vaccinate everyone over time. These efforts are intended to complement, according to Cyril Ramaphosa, the efforts of Covax, and to ensure that as many vaccine doses as possible are available throughout Africa as soon as possible.