France will send 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa over the next three months, the French presidency said in a statement on Monday.
The vaccines will be allocated and distributed through the African Union’s Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Covax. AVAT is a means of enabling group purchases of vaccines by AU members to help them meet at least 50 percent of their needs.
At a conference in Berlin last week, African leaders renewed calls for vaccine equity.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was unfair that richer countries had vaccinated nearly their entire adult populations while poorer countries struggled to buy vaccines.
Africa has administered the least vaccines of any continent. Only 2% of Africa’s population of 1.2 billion is fully vaccinated.
African countries have mostly relied on multilateral and bi-lateral donations. Activists have called the inequity vaccine apartheid.
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 J&J vaccines respectively.
Enough for 400 million people
The statement by Macron’s office said that enough jabs had now been purchased through AVAT to enable vaccination of 400 million people in Africa — a third of the continent’s population — by September 2022, at a cost of three billion dollars.
In August the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on giving third doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccines until at least the end of September, to allow at least 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated.
So far, low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people, due to lack of supply.
The WHO said on Monday that the Republic of Congo has received more than 300,000 vaccines doses from the United States, its first under Covax.