AstraZeneca a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company has said it plans to get more covid-19 vaccines on the African continent as the fight against the pandemic intensifies.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently said Africa is in urgent need of 20 million doses to be able to administer the second jab to people that were inoculated.
Most African countries have been accessing vaccines against corona virus through COVAX a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.
However, the vaccines reaching the continent are insufficient- this is the reason AstraZeneca is teaming up with COVAX to find a quick solution.
“We agree completely with our partners at WHO that the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to African nations has reached a critical point,” says Barbara Nel, Africa region Country President, AstraZeneca.
She noted that the question for everyone in the vaccine alliance now is how we work together to try to make up the shortfall and get more doses to Africa.
AstraZeneca vaccines account for 97% of COVAX supply to date, with more than 71 million doses delivered to 125 participating countries, including more than 38 African countries.
Globally, more than 400 Million of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been supplied to date.
Rwanda on May 27th received an extra 247,000 doses of the AstraZeneca. ” This consignment to Rwanda demonstrates the value of governments, industry and others working together to address our continent’s urgent needs,” Barbara Nel told Taarifa.
She added that all partners in the vaccine alliance are working round the clock to ensure that as many COVID-19 vaccines can get to African nations as soon as possible.
“This is wonderful news for the people of Rwanda. On behalf of AstraZeneca, I would like to thank President Paul Kagame, President Emmanuel Macron of France and our partners at the COVAX coalition, the World Health Organization, Gavi, CEPI and UNICEF for making this possible.
According to Barbara Nel, extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.
AstraZeneca has risen to the challenge of creating a not-for-profit vaccine that is widely available around the world and we are proud that our COVID-19 vaccine accounts for 96% of all supplies to COVAX.
To make wide vaccine access a reality, “we have established 20 supply lines over the last year, spread across the globe and have shared the IP and know-how with dozens of partners, one of which is SII, the largest vaccine manufacturer globally and the main supplier to Africa,” Barbara Nel said.
She added that their model is similar to what an open IP model could look like. “We will continue working in partnership with other manufacturers, governments and public health experts in all parts of the world in order to provide broad and equitable access to vaccines around the world.”
Last week, while on a state visit to Rwanda, French President Emmanuel Macron donated 247,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Rwanda.
“I want to thank you for coming along with much needed vaccines. We needed them very badly…that’s what friends are there for,” President Paul Kagame said during a joint press briefing.
Rwanda needs at least 13 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate its target 60 percent of the population, about 7.5 million people, by June 2022.
So far, only 4% have received the first dose of the vaccine. Currently, delivery of the second doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Kigali is experiencing delays after India suspended vaccine exports due to an upsurge in domestic Covid-19 cases.
Rwanda was to receive Covid-19 vaccines in early April from the Serum Institute of India via the Covax Facility. In March, Rwanda vaccinated 350,465 people, with the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.