(Ecofin Agency) - The African Union (AU) announced it will purchase 110 million doses of covid-19 vaccine from the pharmaceutical company Moderna at the "lowest tiered price". The institution reached a deal to redirect doses initially destined for the U.S. to Africa.
"This is important as it allows us to increase the number of vaccines available immediately. We urge other vaccine-producing countries to follow the lead of the US [government] and give us similar access to buy this and other vaccines." Strive Masiyiwa, the AU coronavirus envoy, said. While 15 million doses will be delivered by the end of the year, 35 million doses will come in the first quarter of 2022, and up to 60 million doses in the second quarter.
For fair access to vaccines
The World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out, during the annual meeting of African health ministers in August, the "shocking inequalities" in accessing vaccines, particularly for Africa. Masiyiwa said the AU was only able to secure the doses with Moderna after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta asked U.S. President Joe Biden to reschedule a new vaccine purchase by the U.S. to allow African countries to obtain vaccines.
The U.S. delaying its acquisition of 33 million doses will bring Africa one step closer to reaching the herd immunity goal. "We are grateful to have helped negotiate this encouraging step forward between Moderna and the African Union that will significantly expand access to vaccines on the continent in the near-term," said Natalie Quillian, White House's deputy coordinator for Covid-19 response.
Moderna, for its part, wants to support the continent through the COVAX program, which aims to ensure fair access to vaccines at a relatively low price. The pharmaceutical company also expressed its ambition to set up a vaccine manufacturing plant in Africa. Hailing the initiative, the AU said the implementation of this plan would weigh a lot in the decision to purchase 60 million additional doses in the second quarter of 2022.
As a reminder, AU already signed an agreement with the pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson last March for 400 million doses of vaccines. The institution plans to vaccinate 900 million people, or 70% of the continent's population, by September 2022.
Dorcas Loba (intern)