African Union Chair secures 270 million COVID19 Vaccine Doses for the Continent

By Phindi Maduna

South Africa’s chairship of the African Union has stood out considerably, mainly because it has taken place during the most challenging year in human history of a global pandemic (COVID19).

Since February 2020, South Africa, as the appointed Chair for the year, showcased leadership in developing strategies that were designed to benefit the continent in the fight against the pandemic; drive a message of unity and sharing of ideas with all member states and; ensured that the set goals for the year were met despite the challenges.

Recently and in line with efforts to overcome the COVID19 crisis, President Cyril Ramaphosa, initiated the establishment of an African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), to source secure vaccine doses for the continent to achieve immunity. Established in August 2020, the AVATT is a 10-member team representing countries from across the continent.

This week the continent welcomed the announcement by the AVATT that it has been successful in securing a provisional 270 million vaccine doses for African countries, with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021. Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through an independent licensee, Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson will supply the vaccines.

This momentous achievement will, upon the commencement of distribution and administration of doses, contribute to reaching 60% of the population, to significantly slow the spread of the virus, as recommended by scientists at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

Financial arrangements have been made with Afreximbank to support African Union member states who want to access these vaccines based on a whole-of-Africa approach. This will help the largest possible number of countries to secure access to vaccines for the majority of their citizens.

The rationale is that a healthy society adds to the success of the continent. In other words, people’s actions are what determine the realisation of any nation’s socio-economic goals.

“I wish to commend the members of AVATT, Afreximbank, Africa CDC and all those who have been working tirelessly to secure these vaccines for the people of Africa. There is a long road ahead, but as Africa we are now seeing progress in our shared effort to defeat this disease” said President Ramaphosa.

The COVID19 pandemic has re-emphasised the importance of putting people first. By putting people first – through openness and transparency, information, consultation and redress, President Ramaphosa was able to lead and arrive at this very historic moment.

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About Play Your Part

Play Your Part is a nationwide programme created to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship in South Africa.  It aims to lift the spirit of our nation by inspiring all South Africans to contribute to positive change, become involved and start doing. A nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live is good for everyone.

Play Your Part is aimed at all South Africans – from corporates and individuals, NGOs and government, churches and schools, from the young to the not-so-young.  It aims to encourage South Africans to use some of their time, money, skills or goods to contribute to a better future for all.