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Ramaphosa confirms AU vaccines allocated by population size

MILLIONS of coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the AU will be allocated according to countries’ population size, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

Ramaphosa, who is the AU chair, said early last week that vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca would be available this year, but he did not specify how many each country would get.

No African countries have begun large-scale coronavirus vaccination campaigns and the AU’s 270-million shots, if administered two per person, would still only cover about 10 percent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.

‘The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already worked out the allocations that each country will be able to get, and the allocation is going to be worked on the size of the population,’ Ramaphosa said.

The CDC did not respond to a request for further detail.

Its director, John Nkengasong, cautioned on Thursday that vaccines would not be a magic bullet for Africa as it would take time for them to be rolled out and a surge in infections has not yet peaked.

The continent’s confirmed cases have passed 3.1 million, with more than 76,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Speaking to Eyewitness News and Radio 702, Ramaphosa also suggested that the AU would access vaccines from China. ‘China will also be part of that, though they will join later,’ he said.

South Africa itself plans to access doses via three sources: the AU arrangement, the Covax facility co-led by the World Health Organisation, and direct deals with manufacturers.

‘We have decided that we should have a multi-supplier process … we are already getting ready for the distribution [and] the vaccination programme,’ he said.

South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths in Africa, at roughly 1.3 million and 36,000, respectively.

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