EU to boost Africa Covid vaccine campaign with Sh132 billion

Africa will get about KES132 billion (€1 billion) from the EU budget to scale up vaccine production and access initiatives as the fight against the pandemic gathers pace.

The financing will help create an enabling environment for the production of vaccines in Africa and help tackle the current barriers in both supply and side.

“Local health capacities and institutions are the foundation of global health, but today Africa imports 99 per cent of its vaccines and 94 per cent of its medicines. This has to change,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the G20 Global Health Summit in Rome on Friday, May 21.

Team Europe will support Africa with over €1 billion and expertise to help develop its own pharmaceutical, biotech, and Medtech industries and ease equitable access to quality and safe products and technologies. The initiative will also help develop a number of regional manufacturing hubs across the continent so that the whole of Africa can benefit, the European Commission President added.

Meanwhile, Egypt has received the first batch of raw materials to start manufacturing China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine.

Read also: Kenya orders 30 million Johnson & Johnson doses as Covid in India spirals out of control

The country’s health minister Hala Zayed had earlier indicated that the northern Africa country will start local production of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in June, with the first two million doses being produced at the Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA).

“VACSERA will produce more than five million doses of Sinovac vaccine in two months, and 40 million doses within a year,” she said.

So far, Egypt has received about 1.37 million doses of vaccines with about 238,000 people getting the jab according to data from the health ministry.

China is urging the international community to support Africa by providing epidemic prevention materials, medicines, technology, and funds to ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines to the populations.

In Kenya, the second COVID-19 dose vaccination campaign is expected to kick off by the end of this week.

Kenya has received 130,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines from the Democratic Republic of Congo under the COVAX facility, through the Gavi dose sharing deals.

“We urge all the vaccination centers to remain open throughout the weekend of 29th and 30th of this month so that the exercise can be carried out. The vaccines we are expecting have a shelf life of one month, which means they will expire at the end of June,” Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said.

The CS also announced that the government is working on the acquisition of additional vaccines to ensure 60 per cent of the population is vaccinated by June 2022.

Read also: Cash woes, logistical challenges rock Africa COVID-19 vaccine plans

“In this regard, the procurement agreement through African Union for 30 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines is almost complete,” he added.

A total of 953,954 people have been vaccinated against the virus by May 23, out of which 289,766 are aged 58 years and above.

In the last 24 hours, Kenya has recorded 324 new Covid-19 cases, a positivity rate of 7.4 per cent, pushing the country’s caseload to 168,432.

According to the ministry of health, ten more people have succumbed to the virus pushing the cumulative fatalities in the country to 3,059.

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