Panafrican News Agency

Coronavirus: AU to receive additional 10 million vaccines from French government

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African countries will receive 10 million doses of Astra Zeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines over the next three months through a new partnership between the French government and the African Union (AU), the African Centre for Disease said on Monday.

According to the Africa CDC, the vaccines will be allocated and distributed by the initiative known as the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the COVAX global vaccine initiative.

The AVAT initiative was set up as a pooled procurement mechanism for the AU Member States to be able to buy enough vaccines for at least 50% of their needs. The initiative works closely with the COVAX, which seeks to provide the other 50% through donations.

The French government has been a strong advocate of vaccine sharing in the fight against COVID-19 in order to accelerate global vaccination rates and ensure equitable access to safe and efficacious immunization against COVID-19.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the solution to the pandemic will only come from strong cooperation, between multilateral, regional and national actors.

"Based on our solid partnership with the African Union, I want us to build together on the expertise and the political legitimacy of African leaders," President Macron said.

Astra Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines will be donated by the French people to the AU, whichwill decide on their allocation, in coordination with COVAX.

"This demonstrates my will, as President of France, to stand shoulder to shoulder with African people and face the pandemic together,” President Macron said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and AU's  COVID-19 Champion said the French donation of vaccine doses to Africa was a clear and welcome demonstration of human solidarity and political cooperation at a time the world needs this most.

"A safer and healthier Africa is a prerequisite for a safer and healthier world. I commend President Macron and the government and people of France for this important contribution to our continent’s fight against illness and against the unfortunate and avoidable reality of unequal access to vaccines in many regions of the world, including Africa," President Ramaphosa said.

In April, France became the first country to share doses with COVAX, a global vaccine initiative managed by CEPI, Gavi, WHO, and UNICEF. Through its new partnership with AVAT, the French government will add to these efforts and advance its commitment of sharing at least 60 million doses before the end of 2021, the Africa CDC said in a statement.

AVAT is managed on behalf of the AU Member States by an alliance of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), as well as the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which also provides the funding for the acquisition of vaccines.

AVAT has acquired enough vaccines for African countries to vaccinate 400 million people, or one-third of the African population, by September next year, at a cost of $3 billion, supported by an innovative partnership with the World Bank.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, President Macron has been a powerful advocate in support of Africa’s need to have equitable access to vaccines and was the first leader to welcome and acknowledge the efforts of the AU Member States to build institutions like AVAT.

He has met several times with the AU leadership and has also travelled to South Africa, where the French development agency Proparco is helping to expand Africa’s largest vaccine manufacturing facility.

France will also contribute to the WHO supported Hub, which will enable mRNA vaccines technology transfer to the African continent.

-0- PANA AO/AR 30Aug2021