African finance ministers and the World Bank Group met today to speed up vaccine procurement on the continent and avoid a third wave.
To boost the African Union’s goal of vaccinating 60% of the continent’s population by 2022, the World Bank and the AU have announced that they are joining forces to support the Africa initiative. Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) with resources to enable countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa.
This extraordinary regional effort complements COVAX and comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are increasing in the region.
World Bank funding is available to support the purchase and deployment of doses secured by AVATT.
âThe World Bank is very happy to support African countries through this partnership with the African Union to rapidly deliver hundreds of millions of doses,â said World Bank Group President David Malpass. âBy working together, we can accelerate doses to countries and support deployment. Countries urgently need more channels to acquire vaccines that match their needs and have early delivery schedules. “
âThanks to this joint initiative between the World Bank and African institutions such as the African Import and Export Bank and the African Center for Disease Control, we now have the capacity to vaccinate at least 400 million people, or 30% of our population of 1.3 billion, âsaid Strive Masiyiwa, African Union special envoy and AVATT coordinator.
He added: âWe really appreciate the extraordinary partnership on this initiative between the AU vaccine champion, HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, and David Malpass, the President of the World Bank.
The World Bank has US $ 12 billion in vaccine funding to help countries purchase and distribute vaccines and address preparedness challenges.
The World Bank has already approved operations to support vaccine deployment in 36 countries.
By the end of June, the World Bank plans to support vaccination efforts in 50 countries, two-thirds of which are in Africa.
The World Bank has also established strong partnerships with regional institutions such as the African Center for Disease Control, the West African Health Organization and the African Union Commission to strengthen cross-border collaboration on surveillance, disease preparedness and response.
World Bank-funded COVID-19 vaccination operations allow countries to purchase vaccines through COVAX, through regional initiatives, and through bilateral purchases from manufacturers.
As such, the Bank has worked closely with AVATT to ensure that African countries can also use World Bank funding to purchase doses of COVID-19 under the AVATT initiative.
The aim of the Africa Vaccine Procurement Task Force, which is an initiative of the African Union Commission, Africa CDC, Afreximbank, AU Special Envoys for COVID- 19 and the ECA, is to provide the continent with sufficient and rapid access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It has already successfully negotiated 220 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson Janssen (J & J / Janssen) for use by African countries, with an option for another 180 million depending on demand.
AVATT works and coordinates closely with African finance ministers in efforts to achieve collective immunity for the full reopening of the economies of the continent.
âA key priority in this initiative is to ensure that the purchase of vaccines results in the immunization of people,â noted Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of ECA.
World Bank funding and technical assistance are available to help countries deploy vaccines effectively, including expanding storage and building cold chain, developing monitoring systems to ensure that vaccines reach people, training of health workers and support for citizen and community engagement to address vaccine reluctance.
Beyond the current emergency, building resilient health systems in Africa, capable of responding to future pandemics, will be essential.
In addition, IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is leading a consortium to support regional vaccine production in Africa.
Investment works in South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda are at an advanced stage.