Addis Ababa, 6th September 2021: African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) announces the arrival of 108,000 vaccine doses in Ethiopia as part of the first monthly shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
AVAT is pleased to announce the shipment of 108,000 vaccine doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccines to Ethiopia on 6th September 2021. This is part of a total of 6.4m vaccine doses to be shipped to African Union Member States in August 2021. The Member States who have ordered vaccines through AVAT will continue to receive shipments for the next following months. In collaboration with the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), UNICEF is providing logistical and delivery services to the Member States.
These deliveries are part of the historic COVID-19 vaccine advance procurement agreement signed on 28 March 2021 by AVAT for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, wit h the potential to order an additional 180 million doses. The agreement and the start of deliveries mark for the first time that the African Union Member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population. In total, the 400m vaccines acquired by AVAT are sufficient to immunise a third of the African population.
The agreement with Johnson & Johnson was made possible through a USD 2 billion facility provided by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), who are also the Financial and Transaction Advisers, Guarantors, Instalment Payment Advisers and Payment Agents. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) provided technical support on the financing arrangements and on the alignment of the AU Ministers of Finance.
The Minister of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Lia Tadesse, welcomed the arrival of the vaccines and said, “The purchase of these vaccines, will boost our national COVID-19 vaccination programme- in addition to supporting the ongoing rollout of the COVID”
AVAT was established by the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, set up in November 2020 under the African Union chairmanship of HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, as part of the African Union’s COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy, and its goal of vaccinating at least 60 percent of the African population with safe and efficacious vaccines against COVID-19.
This vaccine acquisition and deployment is also supported by an innovative partnership between the World Bank and the AU, African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to expedite access to vaccines throughout the continent.
The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is a special purpose vehicle, incorporated in Mauritius. AVAT acts as a centralised purchasing agent on behalf of the African Union (AU) Member States, to secure the necessary vaccines and blended financing resources for achieving Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60% of Africa’s population based on a whole-of-Africa approach. AVAT was established by the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which was set up in November 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union (AU), as a support component to the COVID-19 Immunisation Strategy that was endorsed by the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government in August 2020. AVAT’s main partner institutions are the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
About Africa CDC
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at: www.africacdc.org
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution with the mandate of financing and promoting intra-and extra-African trade. Afreximbank was established in October 1993 and owned by African governments, the African Development Bank and other African multilateral financial institutions as well as African and non-African public and private investors. The Bank was established under two constitutive documents, an Agreement signed by member states, which confers on the Bank the status of an international organization, and a Charter signed by all Shareholders, which governs its corporate structure and operations. Afreximbank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that are supporting the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby sustaining economic expansion in Africa. At the end of 2020, the Bank’s total assets and guarantees stood at US$21.5 billion and its shareholders’ funds amounted to US$3.4 billion. The Bank disbursed more than US$42 billion between 2016 and 2020. Afreximbank has ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A-), Moody’s (Baa1) and Fitch (BBB-). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt. For more information, visit: www.afreximbank.com Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram
Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA’s) mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its Member States, foster intraregional integration and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. ECA is made up of 54 Member States and plays a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape. For more information, visit: www.uneca.org
The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) is a non-profit initiative launched by the African Union as an immediate, integrated and practical response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The online platform was developed under the leadership of the African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa and powered by Janngo on behalf of the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and in partnership with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) with the support of leading African & international Institutions, Foundations & Corporations as well as Governments of China, Canada & France. For more information visit www.amsp.africa
About The World Bank
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has deployed over $157 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history. The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The Bank is also supporting over 50 low- and middle-income countries, more than half of which are in Africa, with the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, and is making available $20 billion in financing for this purpose until the end of 2022.
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Brazzaville, 2 September 2021 – Africa is set to miss the urgent global goal of vaccinating the most vulnerable 10% of every country’s population against COVID-19 by the end of September. Forty-two of Africa’s 54 nations—nearly 80%—are set to miss the target if the current pace of vaccine deliveries and vaccinations hold, new data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows.
Nine African countries, including South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia, have already reached the global target set in May by the World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy-setting body. At the current pace, three more African countries are set to meet the target. Two more could meet it if they speed up vaccinations.
“With less than a month to go, this looming goal must concentrate minds in Africa and globally. Vaccine hoarding has held Africa back and we urgently need more vaccines, but as more doses arrive, African countries must zero in and drive forward precise plans to rapidly vaccinate the millions of people that still face a grave threat from COVID-19,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Almost 21 million COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Africa via the COVAX Facility in August, an amount equal to the previous four months combined. With more vaccines expected from COVAX and the African Union by the end of September, we could see enough doses delivered to meet the 10% target.
While many African countries have sped up COVID-19 vaccinations as vaccine shipments ramped up in August, 26 countries have used less than half of their COVID-19 vaccines.
Over 143 million doses have been received in Africa in total and 39 million people—around just 3% of Africa’s population—are fully vaccinated. In comparison, 52% of people are fully vaccinated in the United States of America and 57% in the European Union.
“The inequity is deeply disturbing. Just 2% of the over five billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa. Yet recent rises in vaccine shipments and commitments shows that a fairer, more just global distribution of vaccines looks possible,” said Dr Moeti.
Countries must continue to address operational gaps and continually improve, adapt and refine their COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. Of the 30 countries that have submitted data to WHO on operational readiness, one in two have not conducted intra-action reviews, which are key to assessing and fine-tuning progress. One in three countries have not updated their National Vaccine Deployment Plans, which instruct all COVID-19 vaccination actions in each country.
WHO is providing tailored policy advice and technical guidance and support to African countries to help enhance their logistics, planning and monitoring capacities. WHO is also working to share valuable lessons and experiences between countries.
COVID-19 cases are declining slightly in Africa but remain stubbornly high. A rising number of new cases in Central, East and West Africa pushed case numbers up to nearly 215 000 in the week ending on 29 August. Twenty-five countries—over 45% of African countries—are reporting high or fast-rising case numbers. Over 5500 deaths were reported in the week ending on 29 August.
“Although Africa’s third wave peaked in July, the decline in new cases is at a glacial pace—far slower than in previous waves. The pandemic is still raging in Africa and we must not let our guard down. Every hour 26 Africans die of COVID-19.”
The highly transmissible Delta variant has been found in 31 African countries. The Alpha variant has been detected in 44 countries and the Beta variant in 39.
The C.1.2 variant has been identified in 114 cases in South Africa. Single cases have been found in four other African countries, and very low case numbers have been reported internationally. While first reported to WHO in July, the prevalence of this new variant remains very low. To be identified as a variant of concern there must be evidence of an impact on transmissibility, severity or immunity. This is not the case for the C.1.2 variant, yet more data is required.
“We are closely monitoring the spread and evolution of all reported variants of COVID-19, including C.1.2. Mask wearing, physical distancing and regular hand washing will help keep you safe from all variants,” said Dr Moeti.
Dr Moeti spoke during a virtual press conference today facilitated by APO Group. She was joined by Dr Nicholas Crisp, Deputy Director General, National Health Insurance, Department of Health, South Africa, and Dr Assan Abdoul Nasser, Director of Immunizations, Ministry of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs, Niger.
Also on hand to respond to questions were Dr Richard Mihigo, Coordinator, Immunization and Vaccines Development Programme, WHO Regional Office for Africa, and Dr Thierno Balde, Regional COVID-19 Deputy Incident Manager, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
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Investors follow as COVID-19 pandemic pushes the pace of Africa’s vaccine development for other ailments
AFRICA’S pandemic-induced bid to increase its share of vaccines manufactured in the continent has begun attracting foreign investors.
Already, German and Chinese investors have expressed interest in boosting local production capacity both in terms of funding projects and skills transfer in preparation for a vaccine “revolution”.
Germany-based BioNTech last week affirmed its June plans of bringing its manufacturing to Africa following a meeting with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Senegal’s President Macky Sall and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
The COVID-19 vaccine maker said it has begun evaluating the possibilities of setting up malaria and tuberculosis vaccine production sites in Rwanda and Senegal.
“Our goal is the development of vaccines in Africa and the set-up of sustainable vaccine production capabilities to jointly improve the quality of medical care,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech.
BioNTech said it was committed to investing in cutting-edge research and innovation to support vaccine development, the establishment of manufacturing facilities, and the transfer of manufacturing expertise to production sites on the continent.
Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank welcomed the new partnership saying the lender will “stand ready to provide technical experience and financial backing in the coming months.”
Chinese private sector investors have listed ‘speed up local manufacturing in the African medical industry alongside the unification of African standards’ among key topics for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC 2021) meeting, scheduled for later in the year.
“Local manufacturing is vital to African economies, a challenge made especially clear with the supply restrictions that have arisen during the COVID19 pandemic,” according to the latest China-Africa Business Council Report, titled, “Market Power and Role of the Private Sector”.
While many African countries have attractive policies for the medical industry, the report says that policies vary greatly among African countries and there is a lack of mutual recognition, which reduces the willingness of foreign-funded enterprises to invest in Africa on a large scale.
“Establishing the AU and African regional organizations, the African Medicines Agency (AMA) and the AU technical standards certification organization as quickly as possible will be very useful and will complement renewed efforts from the Chinese side to encourage investment in local manufacturing of pharmaceutical and medical products, rather than export,” says the report.
BioNTech focus on Malaria and TB vaccines bodes well with Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) target of prioritising endemic and outbreak-prone diseases including HIV/Aids that accounts for high number of deaths in the continent to increase Africa’s manufacturing from current 1 percent to 60 percent by 2040.
“The ambition is to leverage new technology in support of a sustainable manufacturing industry on the continent. This initiative joins others across the continent in pushing forward this vision,” said John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
In 2017, African Union heads of state and government committed to end AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030.
In July, the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) in collaboration with the World Bank Group, Germany, and France, announced a joint investment to boost vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa.
On the cards under this partnership was a financial arrangement that would see a South African business – Aspen Pharmacare – ramp up its manufacturing capacity and produce more than 500 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of 2022.
A research paper published by the Tony Blaire Institute for Global Change in April shows there are seven other African countries with various capacities, ranging from manufacturing, to fill and finish (the process of filling vials with vaccine and finishing the process of packaging the medicine for distribution), to distribution.
Senegal exports a WHO pre-qualified vaccine, through the Institut Pasteur de Dakar that produces small quantities of yellow fever vaccines while Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Ethiopia – are among countries positioned to provide fill and finish.
The Egyptian government’s vaccine manufacturer is reportedly finalizing a public-private deal with Sinovac to produce Covid-19 vaccine.
Nigeria is investing heavily in research and development with plans to leverage a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to manufacture, among others, COVID-19 and HIV, yellow fever, measles, hepatitis B vaccines.
Vaccine manufacturing in Africa, a report from UK Aid, also shows Algeria has the capacity to do substance manufacturing for rabies vaccine and distribute other imported vaccines.
South Africa, which has historically led much of Africa’s vaccine production through its public-private partnership with Biovac, has over the last five years invested in modernizing facilities and upskilling staff to ramp up manufacturing capacity, says the paper.
South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare announced in late July that it had started releasing the first Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines created at its Gqeberha-based manufacturing site.
The supplies would be “the first COVID-19 vaccines to be produced on the African continent, by an African producer for South African and African patients. Supplies will also be made to the European Union and other offshore markets,” the South African multinational said on its website.
UK Aid estimates Africa’s vaccine market to be worth 1.3 billion dollars, with projections for it to reach a value of 2.35 billion dollars by 2030.
AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
A City of Johannesburg health worker, who was busted for selling fake COVID-19 negative certificates for travellers for R500, is expected to appear in court today.
The yet-unnamed worker, who was stationed at Parkhurst Clinic, is expected to appear in court, where he will face fraud charges.
According to the City, the worker was closely monitored for over a week and was arrested during a sting operation which was led by the City Executive Mayor Jolidee Matongo working with the City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Service (GFIS) department and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD).
In a statement, the City said: It is alleged that the suspect sells the fake Covid-19 negative test certificates to people wishing to travel to other countries without conducting the actual test and taking blood samples. All you need to do is send him your identity number, after a day or two you will receive a message from the laboratory indicating that you tested negative for Covid-19. He will then give you the certificate which he charges R500.”
Preliminary investigations have revealed that the suspect was not working alone. More suspects are expected to be arrested as the investigation is ongoing.
Matongo said, “It’s quite unfortunate, we don’t need such people in our system. We would like to encourage our staff not to engage in such corrupt activities because it compromises the whole country. Imagine someone who has contracted Covid and they are given a certificate that says they are negative. That person will infect many people and some may succumb to the virus.
“We hope that law enforcement agencies will send the suspect to prison for a long time, we need to set an example and send a strong message to people who are doing this. If the laws of this country have to be changed to deal with such, let us do that.”
Source: African Mirror