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UPDATE 1-African Union secures 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from manufacturers

Wed, 13th Jan 2021 20:57

(Adds more details)

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The African Union has
secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from
manufacturers for member states to supplement the COVAX
programme, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on
Wednesday.

African nations are grappling with a second wave of the
novel coronavirus, infections rising to at least 3.1 million and
74,600 deaths over the course of the pandemic, according to a
Reuters tally.

The vaccines will be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca
, through the Serum Institute of India, and Johnson &
Johnson, said Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union.

He added that all 270 million doses would be made available
this year, with at least 50 million available "for the crucial
period of April to June 2021".

On financing, Ramaphosa said arrangements had been made with
the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) to support member
states who want access to the vaccines.

Afreximbank would, upon receipt of firm orders from member
states, provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up
to $2 billion to the manufacturers.

"There is also close collaboration between the AU team and
the World Bank to ensure that member states are able to access
about $5 billion either to buy more vaccines or pay for delivery
of vaccines committed on their behalf by Afreximbank," Ramaphosa
said.

He added: "These endeavours aim to supplement the COVAX
efforts, and to ensure that as many dosages of vaccine as
possible become available throughout Africa as soon as
possible."

Ramaphosa said while the COVAX initiative, co-led by the
World Health Organization, was vital to Africa's response, the
African Union was concerned that COVAX volumes to be released
between February and June may not extend beyond the needs of
frontline health care workers.

The COVAX facility aims to make available 2 billion doses of
safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Leslie Adler
and Grant McCool)

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