BY LORRAINE MUROMO
African Union member States are set to receive additional 10 million doses of Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines over the next three months through a new partnership between the French government and the African Union.
The vaccines will be allocated and distributed by the initiative known as the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the COVAX global vaccine initiative.
This was confirmed by French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday.
“The solution to the pandemic will only come from strong cooperation, between multilateral, regional and national actors,” Macron said.
“Based on our solid partnership with the African Union, I want us to build together on the expertise and the political legitimacy of African leaders. Thus 10 million doses of Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines will be donated by the French people to the African Union, who will decide on their allocation, in co-ordination with COVAX.”
He added: “This demonstrates my will, as President of France, to stand shoulder to shoulder with African people and face the pandemic together.”
The AVAT initiative is a pooled procurement facility to enable African Union member States to buy 50% of their vaccine needs.
The AVAT works closely with the COVAX initiative, which seeks to provide the other 50% through donations.
AVAT is managed by an alliance of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, as well as the African Export-Import Bank, which also provides funding for the acquisition of vaccines.
The facility has already acquired vaccines for 400 million people, which translates to a third of the African population, by September next year, at a cost of US$3 billion, supported by an innovative partnership with the World Bank.
South African President and African Union COVID-19 champion Cyril Ramaphosa, said: “The donation by the French Republic of 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the African continent is a clear and welcome demonstration of human solidarity and political cooperation at a time the world needs this most.
“A safer and healthier Africa is a prerequisite for a safer and healthier world. I commend President Emmanuel Macron and the government and people of France for this important contribution to our continent’s fight against illness and against the unfortunate and avoidable reality of unequal access to vaccines in many regions of the world, including Africa.”
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