The African Union (AU) aims to purchase up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna.
The AU’s doses will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of 2021, 35 million in the first quarter of next year and up to 60 million in the second quarter.
A good development, but the new shipments of vaccine are not sufficient to vaccinate Africa’s population of 1.3 billion people, who have had far less access to the life-saving vaccines than more prosperous parts of the world.
AU coronavirus envoy, Strive Masiyiwa said the Moderna purchase represented the first time the 55-member AU had secured vaccines that were not fully produced in Africa.
“This is important as it allows us to increase the number of vaccines available immediately,” Masiyiwa said in an email. “We urge other vaccine producing countries to follow the lead of the (U.S. government) and give us similar access to buy this and other vaccines.”
Moderna said it was working to make it possible to fill doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa by 2023 and has plans to build a manufacturing plant on the continent.
“This is the first step in our long-term partnership with the African Union,” Moderna Chief Executive, Stéphane Bancel said in a statement, referring to a Memorandum of Understanding to make up to 110 million doses for the AU.