South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current head of the African Union (AU) has said that the continent has received Coronavirus Vaccines worth 270 Million. He said that the bloc of 15 nations has obtained the vaccines independently despite having limited resources.
According to official records, Africa has recorded more than 74,000 deaths from a total of over 3 million cases of covid 19 infections. These figures are relatively low compared to the United States and several European countries.
Despite Africa’s low numbers, most African countries are still battling to control the spread of this disease. Several nations like SouthAfrica are already dealing with a second wave of infections. South Africa remains the most affected country in Africa with 35,000 deaths from a total of 1.2 million cases — this accounts for most of Africa’s cases.
This new initiative by the AU is different from private partners, the Covax scheme and the World Health Organisation (WHO) which all seek to secure equitable access to vaccines.
According to president Ramaphosa, the African Union created an African Vaccine Acquisition Task force to provide the continent with vaccine doses. They will be ordered in bulk and member countries will be allowed to order doses from this pool.
By the end of the year, WHO aims to provide 20% of the population of participating countries with doses of the vaccines. There is enough funding to provide vaccines to the 92 most economically challenged nations; however, this initiative will also help certain others in better conditions.
The WHO recently revealed that these countries would be provided with the first doses between January and mid-February. The organization said in a statement, “While the Covax initiative is essential for Africa, the African Union fears that the volume that will be available between February and June will not exceed the needs of health workers and therefore will not be sufficient to contain the growing numbers of the pandemic in Africa.”
According to scientists at the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the spread of the Covid 19 can only be significantly controlled by reaching at least 60% of the people. This means that the target of immunize 20% of the population will be helpful but will certainly not enough to curb the virus.
The AU’s website reveals that the organization is talking to more manufacturers in a bid to secure more vaccines for its member countries. The official statement of the AU is that, “there is a lot we have to do to eliminate the virus.”