France will be giving 10 million doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines to African countries over the next three months, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday, August 30.
The jabs “will be allocated and distributed in the framework of the (African Union’s) African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Covax,” the partnership for equitable vaccine rollout, he said.
The pandemic can only be overcome through intense cooperation, Mr Macron added in a statement.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has also been calling out rich nations for unequal access to vaccines, hailed the announcement as a “strong and welcome gesture of human solidarity and political cooperation at a time when the world most needs it.”
Earlier this month, the head of the World Health Organization called for a moratorium on giving booster shots to the fully vaccinated until at least the end of September, to allow at least 10 per cent of the population of every country to be vaccinated.
The statement by Mr Macron’s office said that enough jabs had now been purchased through AVAT to enable vaccination of 400 million people in Africa, equivalent to a third of the continent’s population by September next year at a cost of $3 billion.
So far, Africa as a continent has administered the least vaccines globally with just two per cent of continent’s population of 1.2 billion fully vaccinated.
African countries have mostly relied on multilateral and bi-lateral vaccine donations to inoculate their population.
Meanwhile, the African Union is looking to set up vaccine production sites in five countries. So far Egypt and South Africa have begun local production of Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson vaccines respectively.