June 2, 2021

Astrazeneca Targets Africa for its Vaccine Rollout

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Barbara Nel, Africa region Country President, AstraZeneca

Astrazeneca has said that it will maintain a strong partnership with the Covax Initiative to ensure African countries receive substantial vaccines for their citizens.

Barbara Nel, Africa region Country President, AstraZeneca said in a statement:

“I was delighted to see the arrival of a further 117,600 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Kigali airport, Rwanda, today, May 27th.”

“This is wonderful news for the people of Rwanda. On behalf of AstraZeneca, I would like to thank President Kagame, President Macron and our partners at the COVAX coalition, the World Health Organization, Gavi, CEPI and UNICEF for making this possible.

“Our vaccine accounts for 97% of COVAX supply to date, with more than 71 million doses delivered to 125 participating countries, including more than 38 African countries. To date, more than 400 Million of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been supplied worldwide.”

“All partners in the vaccine alliance are working round the clock to ensure that as many COVID-19 vaccines can get to African nations as soon as possible. Today’s arrival in Rwanda demonstrates the value of governments, industry and others working together to address our continent’s urgent needs.”

During his two-day visit, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Gikondo Health Center in Kigali to learn about the campaign against COVID-19 in Rwanda. Macron also announced a donation of 117,600 doses of vaccine to Rwanda

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently said Africa is in urgent need of 20 million doses to be able to administer the second jab to people that were inoculated.

With specific reference to Rwanda, it recently acquired an additional 247,000 doses for the second jab. However, this amount falls short, since the people that received the first jab are about 29,000. By June 5, the 12 weeks’ period (interval for the second jab) will start to expire.

Barbara Nel, Africa region Country President, AstraZeneca responded:

“We agree completely with our partners at WHO that the supply of Covid-19 vaccines to African nations has reached a critical point. The decision to suspend vaccine exports from India, as a result of the terrible situation there, has caused a serious supply shortfall in Africa.”

 “The question for everyone in the vaccine alliance now is how we work together to try to make up the shortfall and get more doses to Africa.”

 First, we agree with our partners at the COVAX global vaccine initiative, that more funding is needed to begin securing new supply of vaccine for delivery through 2021 and into 2022. As WHO said last week, if world leaders rally together, the original COVAX objectives – delivery of 2 billion doses of vaccines worldwide in 2021, and 1.8 billion doses to 92 lower income economies by early 2022 are still well within reach.”

 “Second, we need more countries with the largest supplies to start sharing doses. More and more nations are now doing this. AstraZeneca is working with COVAX to get more vaccines to Africa, and we are pursuing several such options at the present time. The donation from France to Rwanda is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when all partners work together.”

“Third, the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures. AstraZeneca has risen to the challenge of creating a not-for-profit vaccine that is widely available around the world and we are proud that our COVID-19 vaccine accounts for 96% of all supplies to COVAX. To make wide vaccine access a reality, we have established 20 supply lines over the last year, spread across the globe and have shared the IP and know-how with dozens of partners, one of which is SII, the largest vaccine manufacturer globally and the main supplier to Africa. In fact, our model is similar to what an open IP model could look like. We will continue working in partnership with other manufacturers, governments and public health experts in all parts of the world in order to provide broad and equitable access to vaccines around the world.”

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