World Bank, AU agree to vaccinate 400m Africans

Thursday June 24 2021
fin01pix

A nurse immunises a man at the Ministry of Health Headquarters last month. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

By MARTIN LUTHER OKETCH

The World Bank and African Union have partnered to support the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative with resources to allow countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa. 

The move is in spirit a boost to the African Union’s target to vaccinate 60 per cent of the continent’s population by 2022. 

This comes after the African Finance Ministers and the World Bank Group met on June 21 virtually to fast track vaccine acquisition on the continent and avoid a third wave.

The World Bank Group president, David Malpass and his African Union counterpart, Mr Strive Masiyiwa said this regional effort complements COVAX and comes at a time of rising Covid-19 cases in the region. 

The World Bank financing is available to support the purchase and deployment of doses secured by AVATT.

World Bank Group President David Malpass said, “Working together, we can expedite doses to countries and support deployment. Countries urgently need more pathways for acquiring vaccines that match their needs and have early delivery schedules.”

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The World Bank has $12 billion in vaccine financing available to help countries purchase and distribute vaccines and address readiness issues. The World Bank has already approved operations to support vaccine roll out in 36 countries. 

By the end June, the World Bank expects to support vaccination efforts in 50 countries, two thirds of which are in Africa. The World Bank also has partnerships with regional institutions such as the Africa Centre for Disease Control, West African Health Organisation, and the African Union Commission to enhance cross-border collaboration on disease surveillance, preparedness and response.

The World Bank-financed Covid-19 vaccine operations allow countries to purchase vaccines through COVAX, through regional initiatives, and through bilateral procurement from manufacturers. As such, the Bank has been working closely with AVATT to see that countries in Africa can use World Bank financing to purchase Covid-19 doses through the AVATT initiative as well.

“As a result of this joint initiative between the World Bank and African institutions such as the Africa Import Export Bank and the Africa Centre for Disease Control, we now have the capacity to vaccinate at least 400 million people, or 30 per cent of our population of 1.3 billion,” said Mr Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy and coordinator of the AVATT.

Rising covid-19 cases
The World Bank financing is available to support the purchase and deployment of doses secured by AVATT.  This complements COVAX and comes at a time of rising Covid-19 cases in the region.

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