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African Union vaccines to be allocated according to population

President Ramaphosa suggests the AU will access vaccines from China.
Image: Bloomberg

Millions of coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the African Union (AU) will be allocated according to countries’ population size, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

Ramaphosa, who is the current AU chairman, said on Wednesday that vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca would be available this year, but he did not specify how much each African country would get.

No African countries have begun large-scale coronavirus vaccination campaigns and the AU’s 270 million shots, if administered two per person, would still only cover around 10% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.

“The Africa CDC has already worked out the allocations that each country will be able to get, and the allocation is going to be worked on the size of your population,” Ramaphosa said, referring to the AU’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC did not respond to a request for further detail.

Looking to China

Its director John Nkengasong cautioned on Thursday that vaccines would not be a magic bullet for Africa as it would take time for them to be rolled out and a second wave of infections had not yet peaked.

The continent’s confirmed cases have passed 3.1 million, with more than 76,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Speaking to South African news website Eyewitness News and 702 radio, Ramaphosa also suggested that the AU would access vaccines from China. “China will also be part of that, although they will join later,” he said.

South Africa itself plans to access doses via three sources: the AU arrangement, the COVAX facility co-led by the World Health Organization, and direct deals with manufacturers.

“We have decided that we should have a multi-supplier process … we are already getting ready for the distribution (and) the vaccination programme,” he said.

South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths in Africa, at roughly 1.3 million and 36,000.

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