African countries to get free vaccines from South Africa
The South African government has agreed to donate more than two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to other African countries.
Through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF), South Africa signed an agreement with the African Vaccination Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to donate the vaccines.
The doses, worth approximately $18m, will be produced at the Aspen Pharmacare manufacturing facility in Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth, and be distributed to various African countries over the next year, according to a statement issued on Friday.
"This donation embodies South Africa's solidarity with our brothers and sisters on the continent with whom we are united in fighting an unprecedented threat to public health and economic prosperity. The only way in which we can prevent Covid-19 transmission and protect economies and societies on our continent is to successfully immunise a critical mass of the African population with safe and effective vaccines," President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa formed the AVAT during his tenure as African Union chairperson, following the establishment of the African Vaccination Acquisition Task Team.
"The main purpose of the task team is to secure the necessary vaccines and financing resources for achieving Africa's Covid-19 vaccination strategy, which [has a target of] vaccinating a minimum of 60 percent of the continent's population," the Presidency said in a statement.
Meanwhile, African Union special envoy Strive Masiyiwa said the donation would be distributed directly to the lowest-income member states as quickly as possible.
"As AVAT, we have already received and distributed over 100 million doses of donated vaccines, most of which came as a result of President Ramaphosa's tireless efforts with the richest nations. In addition, AVAT has entered into the direct purchase of over 500 million doses, mostly produced in South Africa," Masiyiwa said.
Africa remains the world’s least vaccinated continent. The World Health Organization (WHO) says Africa might not reach the target of vaccinating 70 percent of its 1.3 billion population until the second half of 2024.
Matshidiso Moeti, Africa director for the WHO, recently lashed out at Western nations, accusing them of hoarding vaccines when there should be a more even distribution of jabs.