The African Union (AU) with the leadership of South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa has secured 400 million vaccines for the African continent and the Caribbean region.
This marks the first time Africa has made such a momentous procurement, where all member countries were involved to boost the purchasing power.
It also marks the first time that the AU Member countries have collectively acquired vaccines to protect the health of her population.
President Ramaphosa said: “This is a momentous step forward in Africa’s efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of its people. By working together and by pooling resources, African countries have been able to secure millions of vaccine doses produced right here in Africa. This will provide impetus to the fight against COVID-19 across the continent and will lay the basis for Africa’s social and economic recovery.”
This was a joint venture between the AFRICAN UNION and African Acquisition Trust (AVAT).
AVAT was established by the AU with the mandate to secure sufficient vaccines for the African population and compliment efforts of COVAX under the advice of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
This was the purchase of single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccines and potentially an additional 189 million doses in the near future.
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, said: “During the last months, we have seen the vaccination gap between Africa and other parts of the world widen, and a devastating third wave hit our continent. The deliveries starting now will help us get to the vaccination levels necessary to protect African lives and livelihoods.”
The Johnson and Johnson vaccines were chosen because – the single-shot vaccines are both economical and easier to administer; secondly, their longer life-span and storability and thirdly, the final manufacturing occurs on the African continent, i.e. Aspen Pharmacare facility in Gqeberha, South Africa.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) facilitated the 2 billion USD loan enabling the contract with Johnson and Johnson possible.
The bank, Afreximbank will also oversee the entire financing and payment processes.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Afreximbank, said: “The very low access to vaccines has exposed Africa to a devastating third and fourth waves of COVID-19. Death rates are rising and economies are becoming increasingly vulnerable. We are encouraged by the successful commencement of this vaccine roll-out, which will help contain the spread of the virus and protect lives and livelihood. Afreximbank is pleased to have contributed in the historic procurement of vaccines by AVAT. We look forward to better days ahead for our people through this effort.”