By Raphael Oni
The fight against COVID-19 is a collective one as such the Continental body has taken appropriate steps to provide needed solution.
Following the announcement by the African Union Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa, on 14 January 2021 that the African Union has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for Africa through its COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), on behalf of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), today commenced the COVID-19 vaccines pre-order programme for all African Union Member States. The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) will facilitate payments by providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of the Member States.
While AVATT has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccines doses from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, AMSP – the single-source platform enabling faster, more transparent and cost-effective access to COVID-19 supplies – has opened today pre-orders, offering an equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines doses for the 55 African Union Member States.
“These are historical times. For the first time in history, Africa has secured access to millions of vaccine doses in the middle of a pandemic as most of Western countries,” said African Union Special Envoy Strive Masiyiwa. “There is still a huge shortage of vaccine doses and that is why this continental collaboration has designed a fair allocation coupled with timely and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines across the continent.”
“Afreximbank is proud to expand its support to African economies in their bid to contain the pandemic. Our vaccine financing facility builds on the success of our Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) to open access to COVID 19 vaccines to African states based on a whole-of-Africa approach favoured by the African Union,” said Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank. “By providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to candidate vaccine manufacturers, Afreximbank will ensure that African States are able to rapidly access COVID-19 vaccines, at competitive prices and in a timely manner thereby contributing to saving lives and livelihoods,” he added.
To support vaccination operations, AMSP has also launched a new category on vaccine accessories which will help Member States to procure products such as ultra-low temperature freezers, personal protective equipment, cotton wool rolls, syringes and needles.
“The biggest challenges to COVID-19 vaccine access in Africa have been financing of the vaccines and the logistics of vaccinating at scale, but we are glad that this gap is being filled by the Afreximbank financing facility. The critical decision now is how to get started so that once we start there will be no disruptions, and this is where AMSP will play a very big role,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
“From today, African Union Member States will be able to start placing online pre-orders for their vaccines allocation through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform,” said Fatoumata Bâ, Founder and Executive Chair of Janngo and Managing Partner of Janngo Capital. “We are proud to participate in providing direct access to cutting-edge COVID-19 vaccines throughout Africa; This is essential to protect our people and reopen our economies.”