Africa Secures Close to 300 Million Vaccine Doses


Ryan Guglielmi, Writer

The African Union has secured close to 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in the largest such agreement yet for Africa, a continental official said Tuesday on January 5th, 2021. Infections spike again in parts of Africa, especially South Africa, where a rapidly spreading case of the coronavirus now makes up most of the new cases. 

The continent over the weekend surpassed 3 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 1.2 million in South Africa. Nicaise Ndembi, senior science adviser for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he is very optimistic that the vaccines can be achieved within two years. The Africa CDC has warned that taking much longer than that risks having the virus become endemic in parts of the African continent.

According to the Africa CDC, “Ndembi himself said, African officials have reached almost 10 vaccine manufacturers and developers as Africa is trying to vaccinate 60% of its population of 1.3 billion people, or about 780 million people. The Africa CDC said 1.5 billion doses are needed for that, which means two doses per person. It estimates the amount of money will cost around $10 billion.”

We are expecting 600 million doses from the COVAX facility,” he said, but African officials are still waiting on the details, so “we’re happy we have alternative solutions.” 

In an address to South Africans, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the country had secured 20 million vaccine doses “to be delivered mainly in the first half of the year.” He gave no further details but said, “we will make further announcements as we conclude our negotiations with vaccine manufacturers.” 

“The South African government has also been engaging directly with several vaccine manufacturers for over six months,” he said.

Africa has scrambled on multiple fronts to obtain vaccine supplies. Ramaphosa said the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team recently created under the AU “has done tremendous work to secure vaccine doses” through what he called intensive engagement with manufacturers.

“Given the massive global demand for vaccines and the vastly greater purchasing power of wealthier countries, we are exploring all avenues to get as many vaccine doses as soon as possible,” Ramaphosa said.