The African Union has secured around 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for distribution in African countries, a continental official said on Tuesday, reported CGTN Africa.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Nicaise Ndembi, senior science adviser for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said that the current AU chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, is expected to announce the news on Wednesday.
Ndembi said the 300 million doses are being secured independently of the global COVAX effort aimed at distributing COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries.
When asked about who will be providing the vaccines and at what cost, the health official said, “We have reached the final stage of our deals.”
Ndembi said the 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses will be delivered by the end of the first quarter of this year. He said the vaccines will be allocated on the continental platform that the AU had set up last year to assist 54 African countries to pool their purchasing power and buy pandemic supplies in bulk.
“We’re expecting 600 million doses from the COVAX facility,” he said, but African officials are still waiting on the details, so “we’re happy we have alternative solutions”.
Ndembi said African health officials are in talks with at least 10 vaccine manufacturers as the continent seeks to vaccinate 60 percent of its population of 1.3 billion people, or about 780 million people.
The Africa CDC has said around 1.5 billion doses are needed for that, assuming two doses per person. It estimates the effort will cost around USD 10 billion.
Ndembi has said he’s very optimistic that the goal can be achieved within two years.
The news comes as the number of coronavirus cases spikes again in several African countries, especially South Africa, where a new variant of the coronavirus is now spreading fast, making up most of the new cases. Over the weekend, Africa surpassed 3 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 1.2 million in South African alone.