By Auther Chimbgwa
African Union Special Envoy and Zimbabwean business mogul Strive Masiyiwa has given his thumbs up to the South African government for the donation of 2 030 400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccines worth R288,6 million set to be distributed to fellow African countries.
The South African government, through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF), recently signed an agreement with the African Vaccination Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to donate the doses to African countries.
“This generous donation from the people of South Africa would be distributed directly to the lowest income member states as quickly as possible,” Masiyiwa said.
“As AVAT, we have already received and distributed over 100 million doses of donated vaccines most of which came as a result of President (Cyril) Ramaphosa’s (South African President) tireless efforts with the richest nations like the United States, EU, and France.
“In addition, AVAT has entered into direct purchase of over 500 million doses, mostly produced in South Africa.”
AVAT was formed following the establishment of the African Union’s (AU) Covid-19 African Vaccination Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) in November 2020 by President Ramaphosa as the then Chairperson of AU.
The main purpose of the Task Team was to secure the necessary vaccines and financing resources for achieving Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy which targets inoculating a minimum of 60% of the continent’s population.
The donation will be produced at the Aspen Pharma pharm manufacturing plant in Gqeberha, South Africa operated by Aspen Pharma.
The vaccine will be made available to African countries through the African Medical Suppliers Platform (AMSP) in 2022.
Celebrating the development, Ramaphosa said: “This donation embodies South Africa’s solidarity with our brothers and sisters on the continent with whom we are united in fighting an unprecedented threat to public health and economic prosperity.
“The only way in which we can prevent Covid-19 transmission and protect economies and societies on our continent, is to successfully immunize a critical mass of the African population with safe and effective vaccines.”
Zimbabwe, which has of late witnessed an unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases, is also set to benefit from this initiative.