The African Vaccine Procurement Task Force (AVATT) has confirmed the procurement of 270 million interim vaccine doses for African countries, of which at least 50 million are available for the critical period from April to June 2021 .
The 10-member AVATT, which was created by the President of the African Union, President Cyril Ramaphosa in August, confirmed this on Thursday at a special meeting of the Bureau of the AU Assembly. .
AVATT was created to ensure that the continent would be able to obtain sufficient vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.
In a statement, the presidency said the vaccines would be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through an independent licensee, Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson.
“These efforts complement the COVAX facility, an initiative of the World Health Organization and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance to help low and middle income countries secure access to vaccines on a fair and equitable basis,” reads. we in the press release.
President Ramaphosa said: “Since the start of this pandemic, our goal as a continent has been collaboration and collective effort. We have firmly adhered to the principle that no country should be left behind.
“With this in mind, we have not only campaigned vigorously for changes across all available international forums, but we have taken an additional step to independently secure vaccines using our own limited resources as member states.
“Through our own efforts, we have so far secured an interim commitment of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca (via Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson.”
Arrangements have been made with Afreximbank to support Member States wishing to access these vaccines on the basis of a pan-African approach.
Afreximbank will, upon receipt of firm orders from member states, provide advance purchase commitment guarantees of up to US $ 2 billion to manufacturers on behalf of member states.
When delivering vaccines, Member States can pay using their internal resources or access a staggered payment facility of up to five years offered by Afreximbank.
The presidency said that there is also close collaboration between the AU team and the World Bank to ensure that member states can access around US $ 5 billion, either to buy more vaccines or to pay. the delivery of vaccines contracted on their behalf by Afreximbank.
“These efforts aim to complement COVAX’s efforts and ensure that as many doses of vaccine as possible are available across Africa as soon as possible,” the statement added.
It is hoped that donors will step up their efforts and ensure that more vaccines are provided by COVAX, as any new debt burdens on member states are difficult in the long run.
While the COVAX initiative is vital to Africa’s response, the African Union is concerned that the volumes of COVAX that will be released between February and June will exceed the needs of frontline health workers, and therefore may not be sufficient to contain the ever increasing increase. assessment of the pandemic in Africa.
Another challenge is that the target of 600 million doses of COVAX will only cover around 300 million people across the African continent, which is only around 20% of the population.
Scientists from the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said countries need to reach at least 60% of the population to significantly slow the spread of the disease.
The AVATT team continues to call on other suppliers for more vaccines. Given the virulent nature of the COVID pandemic, it is clear that a threat to one nation and one continent is a threat to all.
To successfully eradicate the global threat of the disease, it is essential that a majority of citizens across all nations have urgent and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.
President Ramaphosa said: “I would like to congratulate the members of the African Vaccine Procurement Task Force, Afreximbank, the African CDC and all those who have worked tirelessly to obtain these vaccines for the people of Africa. There is a long way to go, but as Africa we are now seeing progress in our joint effort to defeat this disease.
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