The African Union (AU), through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), has secured 270-million vaccine doses to supply African countries, with at least 50-million doses available for April to June 2021.

AVATT, a 10-member team drawn from across the continent, was established in August 2020 by AU chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that the continent could secure sufficient vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.

The vaccines will be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through an independent licensee, the Serum Institute of India), and Johnson & Johnson.

“From the onset of this pandemic, our focus as a continent has been on collaboration and collective effort. We have held steadfastly to the principle that no country should be left behind. With this in mind, we have not only campaigned vigorously for changes through all the available international forums, but we have taken the additional step to secure vaccines using our limited resources as member States independently,” Ramaphosa said.

Arrangements have been made with financial service company African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to support member states that want to access these vaccines based on a ‘whole-of-Africa’ approach.

Members States will secure orders with Afreximbank, which will provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2-billion to the manufacturers on behalf of member States.

Once vaccines are delivered, member States may pay using internal resources or access an installment payment facility of up to five years offered by Afreximbank.

Ramaphosa outlined the close collaboration between the AU team and the World Bank to ensure that member states can access about US$5-billion either to buy more vaccines or pay for the delivery of vaccines committed on their behalf by Afreximbank.

“These endeavours aim to supplement the COVAX efforts and to ensure that as many dosages of the vaccine as possible become available throughout Africa as soon as possible. It is hoped that donors will step up further and ensure that more vaccines are provided through COVAX, as any new debt burden on member States is difficult in the long term,” Ramaphosa said.


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