The African Union (AU), African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and UNICEF are partnering to ensure the seamless procurement and delivery of vaccines to AU Member States.
This partnership will help ramp up efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic as less than 2 per cent of people on the continent are fully vaccinated so far.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Vera Songwe, said they are building a platform for deeper collaboration that will pave the way to a more robust African response to the pandemic and move the continent towards recovery, leveraging the opportunities to strengthen health systems and support the manufacturing sector for job creation.
Established by African leaders, AVAT has spearheaded African efforts on fair equitable access and distribution of vaccines, negotiating vaccine acquisition with pharmaceutical companies to at least 60 per cent of the African population with safe and efficacious vaccines to achieve “herd immunity” by 2022.
African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa, highlighted the importance of UNICEF as a strategic partner.
“We are pleased to have UNICEF as a strategic partner in the delivery of these vaccines to our member states, as they are extremely experienced in handling and managing vaccines, and a strong and well-established relationship with all AU member states,” said Masiyiwa.
The procurement of these vaccine doses has been made possible with the support of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which provided a US$2 billion Advance Procurement Commitment (APC) Guarantee facility to Johnson and Johnson on behalf of the AU Member States.
“Since the pandemic began, Africa CDC has worked with COVAX to ensure that African Union Member States get fair access to COVID-19 vaccines. At this critical moment where widespread vaccination is more urgent than ever, we must do all to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of the African population by 2022,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
The bank also made available direct financing to AU Member States which require funding to pay for the vaccines. In April 2021, Afreximbank made a down payment of US$330 million to Johnson and Johnson on behalf of the AU Member States, as part of the commitment under the Agreement.
“As the Financial and Transaction advisers to AVAT on the Johnson & Johnson Agreement, we are pleased to formally welcome UNICEF to the partnership and look forward to a fruitful collaboration for efficient delivery of vaccines to African countries,” said Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank.
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