The African Union said on Wednesday it had provided 270 million doses of anti-Covid vaccine to the continent, in a deal that would benefit countries unable to fund their own immunization campaigns.
Under the deal, the vaccines will be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
Doses will complement vaccines provided through Covax, the global pooling of vaccine supply and distribution efforts that have reached agreements to provide two billion doses
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, our focus as a continent has been on cooperation and collective effort. We have firmly adhered to the principle that no country should be abandoned, “said South African President and AU President Cyril Ramaphosa at a special meeting of the African Union on Wednesday.
Ramaphosa, who set up the African Vaccine Acquisition Team (AVATT), gave details of the doses he provided at the special meeting.
The working group was set up in August to ensure that the African continent would be able to provide enough doses to achieve immunity in the community.
“As a result of our own efforts, we have so far secured a temporary amount of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through the Serum Institute in India) and Johnson & Johnson,”
All 270 million doses of vaccine will be provided this year, with 50 million delivered between April and June, the statement said, without giving further details on the schedule.
Despite Covax’s efforts, the African Union added in a statement that it remained concerned that “the volumes to be issued between February and June may not exceed the needs of frontline health workers and thus may not be sufficient to contain always – an increase in the number of victims of the pandemic in Africa.
“Another challenge is that the target of 600 million doses of Covax will cover only about 300 million people across the African continent, which is only about 20% of the population,” it added.