The African Union (AU) intends to buy up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc.
The purchase forms part of an arrangement brokered in part by the White House, which will defer delivery of some doses intended for the United States to facilitate the deal, officials told Reuters.
The AU’s doses will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of the year, 35 million in the first quarter of 2022 and up to 60 million in the second quarter.
AU coronavirus envoy Strive Masiyiwa said the Moderna purchase was the first time the 55-member AU secured vaccines not fully produced in Africa.
Masiyiwa said: ‘We urge other vaccine producing countries to follow the lead of the [US government] and give us similar access to buy this and other vaccines.’
Fatima Hassan, director of the Cape Town-based Health Justice initiative said to Al Jazeera: ‘This comes a little bit too late. Its a very small amount for a continent of 1. 3 billion people where the vaccination rate is less than 5%. It really is incredulous that it took all this time to make this paltry PR announcement with no sharing of technology and no licenses.’
Hassan said: ‘The bigger issue is that if you look at the statement it talks about 15 million in 2021. And Moderna hasn’t delivered anything to Covax. It looks as if Moderna has been pushed into a corner by the White House but this is not sufficient. It shows that you need the TRIPS waiver and the broader sharing of technology and more governments to step in.’
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