Noah Pitcher is a U.S. and global politics writer at Today News Africa who specializes in covering the White House. A full-time undergraduate student at California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo, Noah is studying Political Science with a concentration in global politics. Noah’s background and experience include working on congressional campaigns, with elected members of the American government, and as part of numerous research teams.
The Mastercard Foundation announced Tuesday that it will be donating $1.3 billion to aid Africa’s vaccination efforts and response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The large sum of money is to be used in partnership with the Africa CDC to save the lives of millions, help acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people, and help foster economic recovery.
“This initiative is about valuing all lives and accelerating the economic recovery of the continent,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation.
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The foundation’s large donation comes in the context of a growing international discussion regarding vaccine inequality. In contrast to the United States and many other first world countries, vaccine access and distribution in many parts of the world is remarkably sparse.
There is currently a stark disparity as wealthier nations have made tremendous strides vaccinating their populations while poorer nations have virtually no access to vaccines. African has seen the worst of this disparity, with less than 2% of Africans receiving any dose of the vaccine.
In developing countries and many African nations, the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a serious issue that has combined with other factors to exacerbate regional instability. Without adequate vaccine access, the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic is expected to continue to intensify.
“We’ve all during this pandemic acknowledged that Africa is lagging behind – and lagging behind seriously – in the battle against this very deadly disease,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC.
Just 32 million vaccines have been administered across the entire continent of over 1.2 billion people, said Nkengasong.
While it is one of the largest private donations made in the fight against the coronavirus, the Mastercard Foundation’s $1.3 billion gift is not the foundation’s first donation. In June of 2020, the foundation committed $40 million toward coronavirus testing in Africa.
The African Union’s current goal is to vaccinate at least 60 percent of the continent’s population, roughly 750 million people, by the end of 2022.
About 40% of people in North America and the European Union have received at least one dose of a vaccine. In the United States, over 52% of Americans have received at least one dose.