The African Union’s (AU) initiatives to secure coronavirus vaccines for the continent have led to a more unified Africa, South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has said.The minister said this while reflecting on her country’s two-year non-permanent term on the UN Security Council and the country’s chairing of the AU during a virtual programme hosted by the London Chatham House late on Wednesday.
According to Pandor, one of the outcomes of the AU’s initiatives and collaboration with its member states was the inception of the Covid-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team that South African President Ramaphosa established in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy at the onset of the pandemic early last year.
“This was an initiative to make vaccines a global public good. Since then, President Ramaphosa and the AU have been working hard to secure vaccines for Africa,” the minister said.
Ramaphosa, in his capacity as AU chair, said the body had secured a provisional 270 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to be distributed to African countries.
Some 50 million doses of the vaccine would be available for the crucial period of April to June 2021, the president said.
“These efforts complement the COVAX facility, a UN World Health Organisation and Gavi Vaccine Alliance initiative, to help low- and middle-income countries secure access to vaccines on a fair and equitable basis,” she told the meeting.
“President Ramaphosa’s focus remains premised on the principle that no country should be left behind in the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines,” Pandor said.
South Africa’s share of the death toll is currently 38,854 and rising daily due to the current surge.
According to the World Health Organisation, there are 94,963,847 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 2,050, 857 deaths to date, worldwide.