ADDIS ABABA, 5 August 2021 – His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and African Union (AU) COVID-19 Champion, is pleased to announce the start of monthly shipments of vaccines acquired by the AU / African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to the AU Member States today. An initiative by the AU Member States to pool their purchasing power, the AVAT, on 28 March 2021, had signed the historic agreement for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was selected for this first pooled procurement for three reasons: first of all, as a single-shot vaccine, it is easier and cheaper to administer; second, the vaccine has a long shelf-life and favourable storage conditions. Last but not least, the vaccine is partly manufactured on the African continent, with fill-finish activities taking place in South Africa.
President Ramaphosa said: “This is a momentous step forward in Africa’s efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of its people. By working together and by pooling resources, African countries have been able to secure millions of vaccine doses produced right here in Africa. This will provide impetus to the fight against COVID-19 across the continent and will lay the basis for Africa’s social and economic recovery.”
On 5 August, the first monthly shipments will arrive in several Member States, and shipments will continue for a total of 6.4m doses shipped in August. Monthly shipments will continue and be continually ramped up, with a target of delivering almost 50m vaccines before the end of December. By January, the number of vaccines being released will be in excess of 25m per month. In collaboration with the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), UNICEF is providing logistical and delivery services to the Member States.
This vaccine acquisition is a unique milestone for the African continent. It is the first time Africa has undertaken a procurement of this magnitude involving all Member States. It also marks the first time that the AU Member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population – 400m vaccines are sufficient to immunise a third of the African people and bring Africa halfway towards its continental goal of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the population. International donors have committed to deliver the remaining half of the doses required through the COVAX initiative.
It is significant that these vaccine doses are being produced on the African continent at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in Gqeberha in South Africa. This is part of the concerted effort by African countries to rally the world to support the TRIPS waiver for technology transfer and active pharmaceutical ingredients to develop our own manufacturing capabilities.
Mr Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy, said: “Delivering our first doses to African Union Member States is an unprecedented milestone. We are deploying relentless efforts to help each Member State to reach its goal of immunising 60 per cent of Africans, as recommended by the Africa CDC. Johnson & Johnson AVAT-purchased single-shot vaccines will enable us to considerably improve our vaccination level across the continent.”
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said: “During the last months, we have seen the vaccination gap between Africa and other parts of the world widen, and a devastating third wave hit our continent. The deliveries starting now will help us get to the vaccination levels necessary to protect African lives and livelihoods.”
The agreement with Johnson & Johnson was made possible through a USD 2 billion facility provided by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), who are also the Financial and Transaction Advisers, Guarantors, Instalment Payment facility providers and Payment Agents.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Afreximbank, said: “The very low access to vaccines has exposed Africa to a devastating third and fourth wave of COVID-19. Death rates are rising and economies are becoming increasingly vulnerable. We are encouraged by the successful commencement of this vaccine roll-out, which will help contain the spread of the virus and protect lives and livelihood. Afreximbank is pleased to have contributed to the historic procurement of vaccines by AVAT. We look forward to better days ahead for our people through this effort.”
“This is a proud moment for the continent; the vaccines, partly manufactured in South Africa are a true testament that local production and pooled procurement as envisioned in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are key to the attainment of a more sustainable post-Covid economic recovery across the continent,” said Dr Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Africa can create over 5 million more jobs if more health commodities are manufactured on the continent. Regular technical meetings of the African Ministers of Finance, who collaborated in an unprecedented manner to make today possible, were coordinated by UNECA.
This vaccine acquisition and deployment is supported by an innovative partnership between the World Bank and the AU, African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to expedite access to vaccines throughout the continent. Through this partnership, the World Bank is supporting the AVATT initiative with resources to allow countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa.
Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations, said: “Today marks an important milestone in the AU’s tireless efforts in bringing COVID-19 vaccines to Africa. The World Bank is very pleased to be part of the AU campaign to get the African continent vaccinated, including by helping finance the purchases of the needed doses and supporting the administration of the shots.”
The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), a 10-member team drawn from across the continent, was established in August 2020 to ensure that the African continent would be able to secure sufficient COVID-19 vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity. The AVATT is a key component in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy that was endorsed by the African Union (AU) Bureau of Heads of State and Government. It is chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and includes Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Dr. Zweli Lawrence Mkhize, Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Professor Benedict Oramah, H.E Amira Elfadi, Dr. John Nkengasong and others, as to be nominated by the Chair of the African Union and the Chairperson of the Commission.
About Africa CDC
Africa CDC is a specialised technical institution of the African Union which supports Member States in their efforts to strengthen health systems and improve surveillance, emergency response, prevention and control of diseases.
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade. Afreximbank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. The Bank has a rich history of intervening in support of African countries in times of crisis. Through the Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) launched in April 2020, Afreximbank has disbursed more than US$6.5 billion in 2020 to help member countries manage the adverse impact of financial, economic, and health shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A stalwart supporter of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Afreximbank has completed the development of a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA. Afreximbank is working with the AU and the AfCFTA Secretariat to develop an Adjustment Facility to support countries in effectively participating in the AfCFTA. At the end of 2020, the Bank’s total assets and guarantees stood at US$21.5 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$3.4 billion. Afreximbank disbursed more than US$42 billion between 2016 and 2020. The Bank has ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A-), Moody’s (Baa1) and Fitch (BBB-). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.
Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA’s) mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its Member States, foster intraregional integration and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. ECA is made up of 54 Member States and plays a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape.
The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) is a non-profit initiative launched by the African Union as an immediate, integrated and practical response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The online platform was developed under the leadership of the African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa and powered by Janngo on behalf of the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and in partnership with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) with the support of leading African & international Institutions, Foundations & Corporations as well as Governments of China, Canada & France. For more information visit www.amsp.africa
About World Bank
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has deployed over $157 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history. The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The Bank is also supporting over 50 low- and middle-income countries, more than half of which are in Africa, with the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and is making available $20 billion in financing for this purpose until the end of 2022.
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