Europe is engaging Africa on prospects of combating the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world as scientists struggle to find solutions to secure lives from the wrath inflicted by the virus.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who is in Rwanda on an official visit, met with Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, and held discussions on various topics including the pandemic.
Michel said on Sunday evening that he had discussed with President Kagame on “broad range of bilateral, regional and global topics…”
Specifically, he said, that discussions focused on concrete action to fight the pandemic and prepare post-COVID-19 recovery.
President Kagame appreciated the EU’s commitment to strengthening Africa-Europe ties, including with the private sector. “We look forward to collaborating on equitable access to vaccines and improved management of current and future pandemics,” he said.
Michel met Kagame together with EU Member of Parliament, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou alongside Secretary General of the La Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo. “Thank you for your work to support multilateral cooperation in the fight against COVID-19,” Kagame expressed gratitude later in the evening.
Earlier in the day, Michel had travelled to the countryside, in Mayange Health Centre, to witness the inoculation of first anti-COVID-19 vaccines distributed by COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and others.
EU is one of the main contributors to this international solidarity initiative, Germany being the major contributor, with the plan to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID 19 vaccines globally in 2021 including at least 1.3 billion to the 92 economies eligible for support through the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC).
On Wednesday March 4, Rwanda received about 340,000 shots of vaccines from COVAX, (240,000 of the AstraZeneca/Oxford and 102,000 of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA).
Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, a medical doctor, had the opportunity to join Mayange Health Centre staff in administering vaccines, before addressing residents. Rwandan health workers and other priority populations vulnerable to COVID-19 have received the life-saving coronavirus vaccines since Friday.
By Sunday evening about 160,000 Rwandans had been vaccinated under a meticulous exercise.
By Sunday, March 7, Rwanda had recorded 19,551 infections at least 268 deaths, 1443 active cases, 17,840 recoveries and 198,453 vaccinations administered.
“Nobody will be safe until everybody is,” Michel said after the tour.
Meanwhile, GAVI CEO, Seth Berkley, also commended Rwanda for setting an important example by “having a clear vaccination strategy that prioritizes those most at-risk and vulnerable. “Great to see that work begin!” he said on Sunday afternoon.