By Sola Ogundipe
The African Union has secured close to 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for distribution to its member nations.
The Senior Science Adviser for the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC, Dr Nicaise Ndembi, who confirmed this on Wednesday, said the 300 million doses are being secured independently of the global COVAX effort aimed at distributing COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries.
“We have reached the final stage of our deals. We plan to have these by the end of the first quarter of 2021. We are expecting 600 million doses from the COVAX facility, but African officials are still waiting on the details, so we’re happy we have alternative solutions.”
Ndembi said the doses will be allocated on the continental platform the AU set up in 2020 to make it easier for the 54 African countries to pool their purchasing power for bulk purchase.
He confirmed that African officials have approached at least 10 vaccine manufacturers and developers as the continent seek to vaccinate 780 million people which is 60 per cent of its population of 1.3 billion.
Africa requires 1.5 billion doses for the vaccination exercise at an estimated cost of $10 billion.
Many African countries are seeing sharp increases in COVID-19 cases even as there are concerns about a new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa.