Africa: Covid-19 - Namibia to Get AU Vaccines

NAMIBIA will soon receive an additional consignment of Covid-19 vaccines procured for all 54 African countries through a partnership between the African Union (AU) and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula yesterday confirmed to The Namibian that the country will be a beneficiary of part of the 270 million vaccines to be disbursed by the AU this year.

"Yes, we are getting it, but we do not know how many doses," Shangula said.

He could not indicate when the AU vaccine would arrive in Namibia.

The deal comes as a timely shot in the arm for Namibia, which is expecting another consignment from the World Health Organisation-initiated Covax facility.

The AU-Afreximbank facility was announced by the continental body chairperson and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday.

"The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (Avatt) [on Friday] reported to a special meeting of the AU Bureau of the Assembly that it has secured a provisional 270 million vaccine doses for African countries, with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021," Ramaphosa said.

Avatt, a 10-member team from across the continent, was established in August 2020 to ensure that the African continent would be able to secure sufficient vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.

The move by the AU could result in most African countries accessing more doses after fears that poorer countries would struggle because of an unavailability of funds.

Ideally, the revelations of Namibia benefiting from the AU-Afreximbank initiative could also see the country surpassing the initial target of vaccinating about 20% of the population.

The vaccines will be supplied by Pfizer and AstraZeneca through an independent licensee of the Serum Institute of India and Johnson & Johnson.

Ramaphosa said upon delivery of the vaccines, member states may pay using their internal resources, or by accessing an instalment payment facility of up to five years offered by Afreximbank.

"Arrangements have been made with Afreximbank to support member states who want to access these vaccines based on a whole-of-Africa approach. Afreximbank will, upon receipt of firm orders from member states, provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of member states," he said.

The South African president said AU member states are able to access funding through a collaboration between the union and the World Bank.

"Member states are able to access about US$5 billion - either to buy more vaccines or pay for the delivery of vaccines committed on their behalf by Afreximbank," Ramaphosa said.

PFIZER VACCINE

Namibia will receive the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of this month, which was acquired through the Covax facility.

Shangula last week said the government paid 15% or N$29,3 million of the N$169,5 million required by the facility.

The first payment will see Namibia cover 20% of the population, or 508 200 people.

"The government has also signed a financial commitment agreement on 5 November 2020 for the remaining US$9 million (roughly N$140 million)," the minister said.

Shangula said the health ministry is engaging with China, Russia, and other countries that are making progress in the manufacturing of vaccines for possible bilateral deals and/or donations.

Vaccines will be prioritised for frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable groups.

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