JOHANNESBURG, 28 January 2021 – The African Union (AU) has secured an additional 400 million doeses of the new coronavirus vaccine for its 54 member states.
The continent-wide bloc had previously secured 270 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The total, however, falls far short of the 1.5 billion vaccine doeses that African needs to inoculate up to 60 percent of its population.
The problem of securing only a limited quantity of vaccine doses so far is compounded by delay in the actual delivery of doses to allow countries to start putting vaccines into the arms of African peoples.
The first 50 million of the 670 million doses of the vaccines secured by the AU are only expected to become available next April and June, according to a statement last week by the Addis Ababa-based continental bloc.
The AU says the rest of the doses it has secured will be delivered later this year and next year.
Most African countries are reliant on supply from the AU working through the global initiative known as COVAX.
Founded by the World Health Organization in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, COVAX’s goal is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
Addressing the World Economic Forum earlier this week, the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, condemned so-called vaccine nationalism by the world’s wealthiest countries.
Ramaphosa who also holds the rotating presidency of the African Union called on rich countries to release doses they had ordered in excess of their needs.
COVAX is credited with offering a platform for the poorest of countries to bid for and purchase vaccines in bulk at more affordable prices than they would have been able to working all alone.
The initiative has led the campaign against rich countries hoarding vaccine supplies and, thereby, holding back supply their citizens will not use that could have been put to immediate use in poorer countries.