By Brightwell Chabusha
Zambia has been allocated 8.7million doses of Covid-19 vaccines under a facility being pioneered by the Africa Union.
Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union, His Excellency Emmanuel Mwamba announced the development.
He said the initiative is being done under the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) a platform which has been created to ensure that up to 60% of Africa’s population was vaccinated against the Coronavirus by December 2021.
He said AVATT was created by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union, in November 2020.
He said AVATT has been mandated to secure the necessary vaccines and blended financing resources for achieving Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60 per cent of Africa’s population.
Mr. Mwamba said AVATT’s efforts are focused on; securing enough safe and efficacious vaccine doses to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of the African population, estimating the funding needs for vaccine procurement and delivery and creating the financing mechanisms required to ensure that all African Union Member States can access and receive the vaccine doses they need to reach a minimum of 60 per cent immunisation.
He said under the mechanism, the vaccines are being sourced from Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and AstraZeneca.
Pfizer and Johnsons & Johnsons are among the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, while AstraZeneca PLC is a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical.
He said a finance facility has been created under the AVATT- the Advance Procurement Commitment (APC) Facility to be backed by African Import and Export Bank (Afreximbank).
He said this mechanism aims at ensuring Africa’s access to the COVID-19 vaccines from no later than April 2021, by providing assurance to identified vaccine manufacturers that vaccine orders placed through the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), are firm and will be paid for as may be agreed.
APC aims to guarantee Africa’s access to of COVID-19 vaccines in a manner that reduces the fiscal burden on member countries.
The mechanism will also ensure a timely, equitable and cost-effective availability of COVID-19 vaccine supplies within the African continent and by so doing, mitigate the protracted financial and socio-economic costs of the COVID-19.
This is also to provide a credible platform around which a blend of funding can be attached to support Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement requirements.
The Task Team has provisionally secured 270 million vaccine doses for Africa for the critical period from April to December 2021.
He said Zambia’s allocation may rise to 25million doses by December 2021.
These vaccine doses, which are in addition to the expected COVAX doses, will be distributed through the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP).
The candidates and related quantities are; 50 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, 100million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, through the Serum Institute of India and 120 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine (upon satisfactory conclusion of phase III trials).
He said the vaccines will obtain prior approval by AVATT on the recommendation of the Africa-CDC.
Africa CDC will approve the vaccines having considered the necessary conditions, efficacy including vaccines which have been trialed in Africa and safety.
Mr. Mwamba said the Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) was briefed of the progress that has been made to ensure that member states began to receive the vaccines from March- April 2021.
This is according to a statement issued by First Secretary Press and Tourism at the Zambian mission in Addis Ababa, Mrs. Inutu Mupango Mwanza.