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African Union purchases 270 million COVID vaccine doses

The African Union has said that it has purchased 270 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for Africa.

According to the Union, the deal will benefit countries that are unable to make their purchases of the virus and conduct its immunization.

The deal will see vaccines supplied by Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, and Johnson & Johnson and will complement those gotten through Covax.

Covax is a coalition that brings together governments, global health organizations, manufacturers to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 treatment and vaccines.

Leaving no country behind

Africa Union Chair Cyril Ramaphosa told a special AU seating on Wednesday that no country on the continent would be left behind.

“From the onset of this pandemic, our focus as a continent has been on a collective and collaborative effort,” he said, “We have held steadfastly to the principle that no country should be left behind.”

The vaccine acquisition was coordinated by the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).

All the vaccines, Ramaphosa confirmed, will be available this year. The first batch, containing 50 million doses, will dock between April and June. However, there was no other timetable for the next collections.

Concerns about Covax’s first batch

However, the African Union said it remained concerned about volumes of the vaccine Covax will release between February and June. They said the batch, different from the AU one, would only be enough for frontline health workers. Thus, it would not be able to contain Africa’s ever-rising infections.

“Another challenge is that the target of 600 million doses from Covax would only cover 300 million people in the continent. That is only about 20 % of the population.”

So far, Africa has confirmed over 3.1 million COVID-19 cases, with the figures increasing in several countries. Deaths have also risen, now passing 74,500. However, the recovery continues to grow too, with over 2.5 million recoveries.

South Africa, though, is going through a testing second wave, with infections rising above 20,000 a day. The new variant is fueling the drive.

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