This week an African official announced that Africa had successfully secured close to 300 million vaccine doses for the COVID-19 disease. The official added that this was the largest of any agreements to secure doses in the continent.
Nicaise Ndembi, Announces Finalization of 300 Million Vaccine Doses Deal
A senior adviser for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nicaise Ndembi, announced to the press after receiving the news. Mr. Nicaise also told reporters that Africa’s current AU chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, would make an announcement of his own concerning the news.
Mr. Ndembi did not provide any details concerning who would be providing the vaccines and at what cost when he made the announcement. He just stated that the continent had reached the final stages of securing vaccines from sources. The shots acquired are being secured independently of the global Covax effort.
Developing countries, especially in Africa, placed all their hopes on acquiring coronavirus shots on the COVAX initiative. The World Health Organization started COVAX with the vaccines alliance CEPI and GAVI, a global coalition to fight epidemics. The organizations created the COVAX initiative to prevent an international stampede for vaccines when a vaccine would be available. The initiative would ensure that the entire world would have access to COVID-19 vaccines by sharing them fairly amongst all nations.
But the outbreak of the virus and the fact that it has caused the deaths of over 1.6 million individuals has caused little or no solidarity amongst different countries. With vaccine supplies being limited, some rich nations in the West have made it hard for COVAX to secure the COVID-19 vaccines required for circulation.
Abandonment of Lower-Income Countries
When vaccines became available, some of the wealthier countries that even funded research to acquire a vaccine utilized their greater purchasing power to buy vaccines. Their actions have proven to be disastrous for other lower-income nations as the nations are clearing up vaccine stocks available. This has left many countries, especially in Africa, exploring an alternative to get as many vaccine doses as soon as possible. Meanwhile, realizing that the Covax initiative can’t deliver, some lower-income nations have chosen to pull out the initiative completely.
As coronavirus infections continue to spike in Africa, the news of the acquisition of 300 million vaccines by Africa came at a good time. In South Africa, a rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus now makes up most of the new cases recorded in the country. This weekend, Africa surpassed 3 million confirmed infections, with more than 1.2 million South Africa cases.
But with the 300 million vaccine doses, the continent seems to have a fighting chance. Mr. Ndembi reported that they plan on having the doses by the end of the first quarter of 2021. Once obtained, the doses will be allocated to the continental platform the AU set up last year. The forum will make it easier for Africa’s 54 countries to pool their purchasing power and buy pandemic supplies in bulk.
Advice from the African CDC
Africa seeks to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population of 1.3 billion people or about 780 million people. To achieve this, the continent was relying on the Covax initiative delivering 600 million doses. But as it seems that the Covax initiative will fail in its mission, African countries are happy to hear the 300 million doses alternative. However, the African CDC advised African countries that to vaccinate 60% of the population, they need some 1.5 billion doses, assuming two doses per person. The CDC estimated the efforts would cost some $10 billion.
Mr. Ndembi told reporters he and other African officials leading the vaccine acquisition project were very optimistic they would achieve the vaccinations in two years. However, the African CDC warned African countries that if they take too long to vaccinate, it will result in certain parts becoming having the virus becoming endemic.