The African Union has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for African countries, with at least 50 million expected to be available between April and June 2021, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the current African Union President said.
“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,” said Ramaphosa.
The work to secure the COVID-vaccine doses for Africa was done by the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), a 10-member team drawn from across the continent and tasked with ensuring sufficient vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.
The South African presidency said arrangements had 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.
Upon delivery of the vaccines, member states then have a flexible payment plan for up to five years.
By Thursday, Africa had reported 3,142,781 COVID-19 infections with 75,709 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like other regions, Africa’s worry has shifted to emerging new variants of coronavirus, some of which are believed to spread faster than the initial variant behind the first wave of infections.
The continent hopes the acquisition and distribution of the vaccines will help stop further spread of the virus and enable a return to normalcy.
Many countries still have various restrictions in place in efforts to curb the spread of the virus, including nighttime curfews, mandatory wearing of masks, bans on public gatherings, lockdowns and the closure of non-essential businesses.