The goal is to vaccinate 60% of Africans by 2022: Africa CDC

Grant Boone
January 15, 2021

The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for African countries, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

The African Union estimates that the continent will need 1.5 billion vaccine doses, enough to protect 60 per cent of its population from COVID-19 and achieve a minimum level of population immunity.

The earliest vaccine distribution in African countries is expected to be in February or March, but a significant rollout is not likely until the middle of the year, despite the urgent need in a continent that has already suffered more than 75,000 deaths and more than 3.1 million cases.

Rwanda, which announced plans to acquire the vaccine by the end of the first quarter, seeks to vaccinate at-least 20 per cent of the country's population for the first phase.

A new COVID-19 strain discovered in the United Kingdom a number of weeks ago has now been detected in 50 countries around the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"Our collective goal is to get ahead of the game and have a global mechanism to quickly identify and study variants of concern and understand their implications for disease control efforts", said Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, the WHO's research and development chief.

Moeti, in her address, said the World Health Organization regional office for Africa, through the COVAX facility, would also work with organisations such as the African Union (AU) towards increasing it to around 900 million doses before the end of 2021.

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Reports indicate that Africa has scrambled on multiple fronts to obtain vaccine supplies.

President Ramaphosa said: "I wish to commend the members of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, Afreximbank, Africa CDC and all those who have been working tirelessly to secure these vaccines for the people of Africa".

Financing for individual African countries wanting to buy the vaccines will be available through the African Export-Import Bank, according to the African Union statement.

It is expected that the country will pay the nearly US$25 million through drawing down from a facility at Afreximbank, payable over five years.

"Afreximbank will, upon receipt of firm orders from member states, provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of member states", Ramaphosa explained.

The first Covax vaccines are expected in the country only in the 2nd quarter of the year.

Africa has recorded more than three million infections, a fraction of the global figure of more than 91 million. The country is experiencing a resurgence of the virus after an initial wave peaked in July, with active cases and hospital admissions at new records.

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