By Teboho Lebesa
A joint initiative of the Mastercard Foundation and Africa CDC have announced the purchase and delivery of 151 200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine to Lesotho.
Purchased under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative the vaccines are set for distribution. The shipment is part of a first tranche of vaccines to be delivered under the initiative.
The Through Saving Lives and Livelihoods and the Mastercard Foundation is purchasing vaccines for more than 65 million people across Africa. The vaccines will be distributed within countries by UNICEF.
Launched in June 2021, Saving Lives and Livelihoods is now a $1.5 billion partnership that aims to enable vaccination for millions of people, develop a workforce for vaccine manufacturing, and strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity to oversee a historic vaccination campaign and effectively respond to future outbreaks.
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.
President and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation Reeta Roy, said of the effort “Timely delivery of these vaccines underscores the effectiveness of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). Working with the Africa CDC and multiple organizations, the Mastercard Foundation will support the roll out of vaccinations to millions across the continent.
More remains to be done to urgently increase vaccination rates. We call on all actors to step forward to save lives and livelihoods in Africa.”
For his part Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, said “We are steadily picking up momentum in the continental vaccination effort. In September, the first tranche of AVAT-purchased vaccines began rolling out to 39 countries.
Now we are announcing the delivery of vaccines purchased through the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative. And we are working hard on the ground to get jabs-in-arms, which is the ultimate measure of success.”
Vaccines purchased under Saving Lives and Livelihoods build on a historic agreement negotiated by the AVAT earlier this year for the purchase of 400 million J&J vaccines as well as a more recent agreement for the purchase of 50 million Moderna vaccines.
The Mastercard Foundation will fund the purchase of 57 million J&J vaccines and is seeking to purchase approximately 17 million Moderna vaccines.
The AVAT mechanism was created to enable African countries to pool together resources to directly purchase vaccines at discounted prices made possible by volume orders.
“Through the AVAT, we have secured enough vaccines to vaccinate 450 million people by September 2022. In this regard, Africa has met its side of the bargain. So far, the Mastercard Foundation is the only foundation that has stepped up to support Africa in this work.
They are covering AVAT’s entire November shipment – and we remain grateful for their support. We hope to see other foundations and corporations get behind the local and national delivery of vaccines,” said Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy.
“This is a remarkable collaborative effort through the AVAT, which Afreximbank are proud to have played our part in. The arrangement for the supply and distribution of vaccines was configured on the back of a US$2 billion guarantee issued by Afreximbank to the vaccine manufacturers, with the support of partners.
Through these combined efforts, the reopening of trade and commerce throughout the continent will be accelerated,” said Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank.
“AVAT vaccines, partly manufactured in South Africa, are a true testament that local production and pooled procurement as envisioned in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are key to the attainment of a more sustainable post-Covid economic recovery across the continent,” said Dr Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic for Africa (UNECA).
The roll out of vaccines under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will be led by UNICEF which is overseeing vaccine delivery for the overall AVAT effort. UNICEF has extensive experience delivering vaccines, and a strong and well-established relationship with African countries.
UNICEF is also supporting the procurement of vaccines for the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative and the larger AVAT vaccine purchase effort.
“UNICEF is proud to continue our support to AVAT and Africa CDC to help vaccinate the millions of people in Africa who have been left behind,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “With our long history of procuring and delivering vaccines all around the world, we are committed to helping reduce vaccine inequity and keeping people safe.”
AVAT is a special purpose vehicle, incorporated in Mauritius, acts as a centralised purchasing agent on behalf of the African Union (AU) Member States, to secure the necessary vaccines and blended financing resources for achieving Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60 perception of Africa’s population based on a whole-of-Africa approach.
AVAT was established by the Covid-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which was set up in November 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, in his capacity as Chairperson of the AU, as a support component to the Covid-19 Immunisation Strategy that was endorsed by the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government in August 2020.
AVAT’s main partner institutions are the AU’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
The Mastercard Foundation is a Canadian foundation and one of the largest in the world with approximately $40 billion in assets. The Foundation was created in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company.
Since its inception, the Foundation has operated independently of the company. The Foundation’s policies, operations, and program decisions are determined by its Board.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.