AFRICA – The European Union is planning to invest US$1.2 billion to facilitate construction of vaccine factories in Africa, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said.
The president added that this will help the continent, where vaccination against COVID-19 has barely begun in many countries, to catch up.
The bloc’s head made the pledges in Rome at a health summit of the G20, the world’s major economies.
“Preventing future health emergencies means strengthening capacities throughout the world. Today, Africa imports 99% of its vaccines. This has to change. Therefore, Team Europe is launching an initiative with African partners to develop vaccine production in Africa. The initiative will develop a number of regional hubs distributed across the continent and it will draw on the full toolbox of Team Europe, including US$1.2 billion of investment,” she said.
“The whole world is hunting for the currently scarce COVID-19 vaccines. Rich countries have the longest straw. Africa must therefore start producing vaccines itself, according to the European Commission. The EU also wants to donate at least 100 million doses to poorer countries by the end of this year, said von der Leyen.
“Team Europe is launching an initiative with African partners to develop vaccine production in Africa. The initiative will develop a number of regional hubs distributed across the continent and it will draw on the full toolbox of Team Europe, including US$1.2 billion of investment”Ursula von der Leyen – EU Commission President
Developing countries are pushing for the patent right on COVID-19 vaccines to be lifted so that other parties could also make the vaccines but most G20 leaders would rather have patent holders make agreements with other parties about sharing their rights, knowledge, and technology.
Three major vaccine manufacturers pledged in Rome to supply middle and low-income countries this year and next year with about 3.5 billion doses at cost price or at a discount, said Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (the parent company of Janssen in Leiden).
Pfizer pledged 2 billion doses, Moderna 95 million and Johnson & Johnson 500 million.
“Today, we will focus on three goals. First, bringing this pandemic under control, everywhere. Second, making sure that vaccines reach everybody everywhere, not only through sharing and export, but also by spreading manufacturing capacities to more regions. And in this context, Team Europe aims at donating at least 100 million doses to low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021. And third, preventing and preparing for future health crises,” President Ursula added.