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‘Africa needs $9b to buy, administer Covid vaccine’

Monday December 21 2020
Vaccine.

Morocco and Egypt have gone ahead of the pack to secure vaccines from China-based Sinopharm. PHOTO | AFP

By ELIZABETH MERAB

Africa needs $9 billion to vaccinate 780 million people over the course of two years, pan-African multilateral trade finance institution (Afreximbank) has said.

The money is estimated to cover the cost of purchasing the vaccines and administering them to 60 per cent of the population. Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection from the coronavirus.

John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), estimated in an article in the science journal Nature, that it could take until October 2021 to secure the total 1.5 billion vaccine doses needed to reach 60 per cent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.

The financing requirement, estimated at $9.1 billion will come from four sources; donors, country self-financing, the World Bank, and Afreximbank, said Prof Benedict Oramah, president of the Afreximbank.

Speaking at a virtual conference organised by the AfricaCDC to discuss a framework for fair, equitable, and timely allocation of Covid-19 vaccines in Africa, Prof Oramah said that the most effective way to deal with vaccine procurement is by taking a “whole-of-Africa” approach making it easier to secure deals with manufacturers and ensure cost-effective financing.

To meet the funding, Afreximbank, estimates that countries will need to raise $0.5 billion, the World Bank gives $4billion (which is part of the $12 billion financing it announced) and $1.8billion which is equivalent to the vaccine dosage the continent will receive to immunise 20 per cent of the population with zero co-payment. Afrieximbank will then finance the remaining $2.8 billion.

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As these plans are under way, some African countries such as Morocco and Egypt have gone ahead of the pack to secure vaccines from China-based Sinopharm. Egypt last week received the second batch of China-based Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine totaling 50,000 doses, bringing the country’s inventory of the jab to 100,000, enough to have 50,000 people inoculated, local daily Egypt Today reported. On the other hand, Morocco, using the same vaccine, is gearing up for an ambitious vaccination programme, aiming to vaccinate 80 percent of its adults starting this month after King Mohammed VI instructed the government to make the vaccine free, according to a Royal Palace statement.

AstraZeneca doses

In the East African region, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya are some of the countries that have announced that they had applied for doses from AstraZeneca/Oxford’s AZD1222 vaccine.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health on Thursday said it has ordered nine million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine amid surging new infections in the country.

The ministry said in a statement that the vaccines will cover 20 percent of the country’s population. Uganda on December 8 said it had applied through the Gavi-the vaccine Alliance (Global Alliances for Vaccines and Immunization) to secure the Covid-19 vaccine from drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Rwanda also announced plans to acquire the vaccine in the first quarter of 2021, according to the Minister for Health Dr Daniel Ngamije. Upon securing the vaccine, Minister Ngamije said that it will be free of charge to all the primary beneficiaries.

Similarly, Kenya’s health director general, Patrick Amoth said the country is seeking 24 million doses of a Covid-19 from the Covax facility and has set aside Ksh10billion ($91 million) to purchase more doses which combined, will be enough to vaccinate 30 per cent of the country’s population.

“Some of priority target group include health workers, police officers, the elderly and teachers who will be the first to receive the vaccine,” said Dr Amoth, who added that the country will use a hybrid system where two different Covid-19 vaccines will be used.

Speaking at the weekly virtual press briefing by the World Health Organisation, regional office for Africa (WHO-Afro), Thabani Maphosa, Gavi’s managing director of country programme said that at least 47 African countries have submitted a request to the global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the WHO.

He however said it was too early to know the number of doses any country will receive as the Vaccine Alliance was still reviewing the requests received.

“We have received vaccine requests from countries but there is a process of allocating doses. At this stage anything on the quantities and amounts would be speculative,” said Mr Maphosa.

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