The World Bank, AU strike deal to speed up vaccine purchase and deployment

The World Bank and the African Union has struck a deal to speed up COVID-19 vaccine roll out for about 400 million people across the continent with a target to inoculate at least 60 per cent of the population by next year.

The two partners would provide the needed resources to the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team initiative, allowing countries to buy and administer more shots to the arms of the people.

The financing will come from a $12 billion fund that the Bretton Woods institution set aside for vaccine purchase and distribution in poor countries, after reaching a deal between the bank and AU finance ministers.

The partnership is meant to accelerate the acquisition of the single-shot vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson in the open market.

“Countries urgently need more pathways for acquiring vaccines that match their needs and have early delivery schedules,” the World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement on June 21.

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The continent wide initiative will also complement efforts already underway by the COVAX vaccine-sharing program, which is co-run by the World Health Organization.

The move by the World Bank comes amid biting shortages caused partly by manufacturing delays and Indian supply disruptions, which has seen a gradual rise in cases and across Africa.

“The World Bank is very pleased to support African countries through this partnership with the African Union to quickly provide hundreds of millions of doses,” the Mr Malpass said. “Countries urgently need more pathways for acquiring vaccines that match their needs and have early delivery schedules.”

In her statement, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said inequalities in global vaccine distribution has seen less than one per cent of people of low-income countries receiving a dose yet over 2.6 billion doses have been administered globally.

African Union special envoy Strive Masiyiwa said the deal between the World Bank and African institutions such as the Africa Import-Export Bank and the Africa Centre for Disease Control would provide the capacity to vaccinate at least 30 per cent of the population in Africa.

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