Rwanda and South Africa will start manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines on the continent to offset the ongoing vaccine shortages.
The Africa Union and the Africa CDC met on Monday to discuss the continent’s preparedness in tackling COVID-19.
Among the items discussed were what they called vaccine nationalization and export restrictions. These two factors, the bodies felt, meant that Africa lagged in getting going in the vaccination process.
Partnerships to manufacture
Thus, it came as a relief when South Africa and Rwanda said that they had entered partnerships that would see them manufacture the vaccines. The two countries reported that they had deals with Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer pharmaceuticals to begin vaccine production in the countries.
“We will begin production of 220 million (vaccine) doses with Johnson & Johnson,” South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said.
Meanwhile, Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, said that the country was in talks with Moderna and Pfizer BioNtech for vaccine productions. He stated that the continent could no longer afford to depend on goodwill for vaccine equity.
Goodwill not enough
“We cannot guarantee vaccine equity through goodwill alone,” he said yesterday, “Africa needs to and should be capable of making its vaccines and medical products. Rwanda has committed to working with member states and partners to make vaccine equity a reality.”
Kagame said that it was time the continent moved from feeling sorry for itself and instead did something about its situation. Partnering with the industries (Moderna, Pfizer, and such) would guarantee the continent did its part in alleviating its condition.
“Africa needs to expand production capacity for vaccines & other essential medical products. For Africa to move from being very sorry for ourselves, we have to take the blame for that & move from what we know hasn’t worked well for Africa to something we can do.” President Kagame pic.twitter.com/RqqCNz2XOh
— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) April 12, 2021
Export bans and restrictions
Currently, Africa’s main supply of the vaccine has faced severe limitations as European nations limit exports and impose bans on the vaccines. The countries have prioritized their citizens, meaning that Africa could continue lagging if it sat duck and did nothing.
Currently, only 36 million people in Africa have gotten the vaccine, far short of the 90 million targets Africa CDC had set by April.