The World Bank has announced its intention of partnering with the African Union (AU)’s COVID-19 Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), in a bid to provide access to vaccines for 400 million Africans.
The pledge is sequel to a meeting between the president of the World Bank, David Malpass and the AVATT, all geared towards discussing ways to accelerate vaccine deployment to Africa.
Recall that AVATT had previously secured up to 400 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine with the support of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). According to a joint statement from both the bank and the AVATT, the need for countries to get sufficient doses in a timely and affordable way cannot be over-emphasized.
In light of this, the president of Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah remarked that his bank provided $2 billion guarantee on behalf of the AU member states, the fund came in handy and was able to help put Africa in a negotiating position with producers of vaccines.
On the other hand, the director of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and member of the AVATT, John Nkengasong opined that the partnership was necessary, as COVID-19 vaccines are critical for achieving the goal of vaccinating at least 60% of Africans.
Naijabusiness.com.ng understands that under the AVATT structure, AU member states were allocated vaccines according to the size of their populations through a pooled procurement mechanism.
Once vaccines arrive across Africa, additional efforts would be required to support their deployment, which included in-country distribution (logistics and storage in line with the cold-chain requirements), securing the required systems, capacities and capabilities for vaccination.
As of Monday evening, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa had reached 5,049,036, with 134,818 deaths and 4,524,651 recoveries, according to the Africa CDC.
African countries have so far acquired around 54.9 million COVID-19 vaccines, which may cover about 2.1 per cent of the population at the continental level, the Africa CDC said.
Some 35.9 million COVID-19 doses have been administered continent-wide, accounting for about 65 per cent of the total supply available in Africa.