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Africa committed to achieving 70% vaccine coverage, Ramaphosa tells global Covid-19 summit

Times Live logo Times Live 2022/05/13 Amanda Khoza
© Provided by Times Live

“This means that vaccines produced in Africa must be procured for Africa’s people. This is vital for the continent’s health security now and into the future,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa made the remarks during the second global Covid-19 summit at the invitation of US President Joe Biden.

Speaking in his capacity as the AU champion on Covid-19 vaccines, Ramaphosa said as the world works towards “swift economic recovery”, there was a threat of new waves and the emergence of new variants.

“To avoid a return to the catastrophic early days of the pandemic, we need to get many more people across the world vaccinated. We need to expand access to testing and treatment,” he said.

He warned countries to be better prepared for future health crises.

“SA therefore supports the formation of the financial intermediary fund as a mechanism to finance global health security,” he said.

He added that the global health recovery will not be inclusive as long as millions of people in developing economies remained unvaccinated. “Africa has one of the world’s lowest vaccination rates at 16% and coverage in low-income countries is still under 13%. As African leaders, we are committed to achieving 70% vaccine coverage through mass campaigns across the continent.”

He told world leaders that “we continue to advocate for a TRIPS waiver in the WTO to improve global access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics”.

“To get more life-saving vaccines to those in need, SA is donating 5-million doses of Pfizer vaccine and 10-million doses of the J&J vaccine to other African countries.”

SA has contributed $10m  to the global fund and plans to contribute financial support to the ACT-Accelerator.

“To address low testing rates, AU member states have committed to a target of 200 million SARS-COV-2 tests by the end of 2022. At the same time, we will be implementing the Africa CDC's Enhanced Surveillance Strategy for community-based testing, wastewater testing and sentinel surveillance,” said Ramaphosa.

Furthermore, he said, the AU summit in February endorsed a common agenda for manufacturing vaccines, medicines, diagnostics, therapeutics and health products on the continent.

The continent’s largest Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing plant opened in SA last year, and mRNA hubs for tech transfer have been opened in SA, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Kenya and Nigeria.

“However, this progress may be reversed because international agencies are not buying vaccines from Africa, even those destined for African countries.

“This must change. Multilateral agencies and philanthropists need to be procuring vaccines and boosters from African manufacturers to ensure the developing capabilities on the continent are retained,” said Ramaphosa.

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