French President Emmanuel Macron’s office on Monday announced the government has decided to offer 10 million doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines to African nations over the next three months, reported Africa News.
The vaccines will be allocated and distributed through the African Union’s Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the World Health Organization (WHO) led COVAX facility. AVAT was set up to enable group purchases of vaccines by AU members to help them meet at least 50 percent of their needs.
“The (COVID-19) pandemic can only be overcome through intense cooperation,” French President Macron said in a statement emphasizing France’s solid partnership with the AU.
The announcement comes after African leaders renewed calls for vaccine equity at a Berlin conference last week. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was unfair that richer nations had vaccinated almost their entire adult populations while poorer countries struggled to even buy vaccines.
Ramaphosa welcomed the French government’s vaccine donation announcement. He said the act is a clear and welcome demonstration of human solidarity and political cooperation at a time the world needs this most.
Africa has administered the least number of vaccines as compared to other continents. Only 2% of Africa’s population of 1.2 billion is fully vaccinated.
African countries have mostly relied on multilateral and bi-lateral donations. The African Union is now looking to set up vaccine production sites in five countries. So far Egypt and South Africa have begun local production of Sinovac and J&J vaccines respectively.
In a statement, the French president’s office said that enough jabs had now been purchased through AVAT to enable vaccination of 400 million people in Africa- a third of the continent’s population- by September 2022, at a cost of three billion dollars.
Separately, the WHO said on Monday that the Republic of Congo had received over 300,000 coronavirus vaccines doses from the United States, its first under Covax.