US begins shipment of 25million COVID-19 doses to Africa

BY: Kweku Zurek
US begins shipment of 25million COVID-19 doses to Africa
US begins shipment of 25million COVID-19 doses to Africa

Some African Union (AU) member states have begun receiving their share of a shipment of approximately 25 million COVID-19 vaccines from the United States (US) government.

The vaccines are being distributed through a collaboration between the AU, African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) and the US government.

The shipments are being sent to African nations that are members of COVAX and as of yesterday, Senegal, Gambia and Burkina Faso had received 151,200 doses each.

According to the State Department Coordinator for Global COVID-19 Response and Health Security, Gayle E. Smith, three types of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson would be shipped to the beneficiary countries.

"The kinds of vaccines that we are providing are Pfizer, Moderna and J&J, and there is an entire process in actually sharing vaccines," Mrs Smith said yesterday during a Digital Press Briefing on US Global COVID-19 Response and Vaccine Donations to the African Union.

"It is not quite as easy as us just putting them on a plane and sending them and someone picking them up at the other end. We go through a detailed legal and regulatory process with host governments to make sure that that vaccine is approved in a given country because each country does its own regulatory process".

She said the US was making efforts to ensure that countries receive vaccines that they are already using in their vaccination campaigns.

Mrs Smith further disclosed that more shipments would be sent to Africa in August as part of US President Joe Biden's commitment to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccines to about 100 countries.

Safe and effective vaccine doses

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Madam Akunna Cook assured that the vaccines were safe and effective.

She said the US's response to the lack of vaccine coverage on the continent forms part of a longstanding collaboration to enhance Africa's health security and infrastructure.

She said over the last 20 years, the US had invested over $100billion in health to save millions of lives in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Africa is a priority for this administration and we are proud of the resiliency that African nations have demonstrated in the face of this pandemic. We remain committed to staying a leading partner in African countries response to pandemics and infectious disease outbreaks".