France donates 30m Covid-19 vaccine doses to Africa

France has committed to contribute 30 million vaccine doses to the World Health Organisation's COVAX facility for use in Africa,…

France has committed to contribute 30 million vaccine doses to the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility for use in Africa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.Ramaphosa made the announcement following his talks with visiting French President Emmanuel Macron on the future of vaccine manufacturing in Africa at the University of Pretoria in Pretoria on Friday.

“As African countries, we are immensely grateful to the government of France for its ongoing support of Africa’s vaccine acquisition,” Ramaphosa, the immediate past African Union (AU) chairperson, said.

He added: “We welcome France’s recent contribution of an additional 30 million doses to COVAX and 500 million euros in multilateral funds to buy diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.”

The two leaders discussed several issues during their talks, including fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and relations between their countries.

Ramaphosa said Africa could “no longer sit back and wait” for Covid-19 vaccines, while other countries were hoarding them in the name of vaccine nationalism.  

“We cannot continue to wait in the queue for life-saving Covid-19 vaccines. The longer we wait the more lives are put at risk,” he said, adding that Africa’s response to the pandemic has been united, coordinated and comprehensive from the outset.

He added: “We set up the ground-breaking African medical supplies platform to ensure that all countries in need have access to diagnostics, therapeutics and personal protective equipment.”

Ramaphosa said the AU’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have played an important role in the continental response to the pandemic, “ensuring we can pool resources and expertise.” 

Macron confirmed his country’s commitment to fighting the pandemic by contributing the 30 million vaccine doses to Africa by the end of 2021, with the aim of increasing the quantity of the drugs at a later stage.

“We are paying and giving a lot of money to many organisations but we do not know how much is being paid to buy these vaccines,” Macron said.

“We suspect that the poorest countries are paying the highest prices for the vaccines,” he said, noting: “In our system, we also want responsibility and transparency in all international mechanisms for the prices.”

Macron, on one-day state visit to South Africa, leaves Saturday for home. 

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