African Union (AU) has announced on Wednesday, January 1st, 2020 that it has purchased 270 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for the continent.
This was made public by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who is the current Chairman of the union; “as a result of our own efforts we have so far secured a commitment of a provisional amount of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson,” the AU Chair said.
According to the official communique released on the website of the South African Presidency, the purchasing agreement was negotiated and secured by the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), a 10-member team drawn from across the continent, tasked to ensure that the African continent would be able to secure sufficient vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.
A report from AVATT to the AU Bureau of the Assembly indicated that, out of the provisional 270 million vaccine doses for African countries, at least 50 million will be made available for the period of April to June 2021.
The statement from AVATT admitted that, “given the virulent nature of the COVID pandemic, it is clear that a threat to one nation and continent is a threat to all,” adding that, “to successfully eradicate the global threat of the disease, it is critical that a majority of citizens of all nations get urgent and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.”
President Ramaphosa indicated that, “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. 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.”
To clarify the source of funding for Africans countries to help secure this vaccines, the 10-member team set-up by the AU chair reported that, “arrangements have been made with Afreximbank to support member states who want to access these vaccines based on a whole-of-Africa approach. Afreximbank will, upon receipt of firm orders from member states, provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of member states.”
The state further added that, “there is also close collaboration between the AU team and the World Bank to ensure that member states are able to access about US$5 billion either to buy more vaccines or pay for delivery of vaccines committed on their behalf by Afreximbank.”
The AVATT has also disclosed that, experts advised that, more than 60% of people must be vaccinated; “Scientists at the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have advised that we need to reach at least 60% of the population to substantially slow the spread of the disease.” The statement said with direct implication that, Africa is all set and will soon kick-start its vaccination process.