African Union (AU) has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for Africa, the AU Chairperson, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced on Tuesday.
Mr Ramaphosa who is also the South African President said the vaccines were secured through the AU COVID-19 African vaccine acquisition task team, the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).
The COVID-19 vaccines pre-order programme for all AU member-States on behalf of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), would be facilitated by AFREXIMBANK.
The bank would be providing an advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2 billion to the drugs manufacturers on behalf of the member-states.
The task team secured the vaccines doses from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, AMSP, with the single-source platform enabling faster, more transparent and cost-effective access to COVID-19 supplies.
The pre-orders, the AU said, offer an equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines doses for 55 AU member-states.
“These are historical times. For the first time in history, Africa has secured access to millions of vaccine doses in the middle of a pandemic as most of Western countries,” the AU Special Envoy Strive Masiyiwa, said.
“There is still a huge shortage of vaccine doses and that is why this continental collaboration has designed a fair allocation coupled with timely and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines across the continent,” he added.
The President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of AFREXIMBANK, Benedict Oramah, said the bank was proud to expand its support to African economies in their bid to contain the pandemic.
“Our vaccine financing facility builds on the success of our Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) to open access to COVID 19 vaccines to African states based on a whole-of-Africa approach favoured by the African Union”, Mr Oramah said.
“By providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2 billion to candidate vaccine manufacturers, AFREXIMBANK will ensure that African States are able to rapidly access COVID-19 vaccines, at competitive prices and in a timely manner, thereby contributing to saving lives and livelihoods”, he added.
To support vaccination operations, the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) has also launched a new category on vaccine accessories to help member-states to procure products such as ultra-low temperature freezers, personal protection equipment, cotton wool rolls, syringes and needles.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest challenges to vaccine access in Africa have been financing of the vaccines and the logistics of vaccinating at scale
But, the Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), John Nkengasong, said the group was glad the gap was being filled by the AFREXIMBANK financing facility.
“The critical decision now is how to get started so that once we start, there will be no disruptions, and this is where AMSP will play a very big role,” he said.
Following the opening of the programme, Founder & Executive Chair of Janngo and Managing Partner of Janngo Capital, Fatoumata Bâ, said henceforth AU member-states would be able to start placing online pre orders for their vaccines allocation through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform.
“We are proud to participate in giving direct access to cutting edge COVID-19 vaccines through Africa; This is essential to protect our people and reopen our economies,” he said.