Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City. He can be reached on email@example.com
The White House on Monday announced the donation of one million vaccine doses to The Gambia, Senegal, Zambia and Niger.
“Okay, one item for all of you at the top. The United States continues its tremendous efforts to donate COVID-19 vaccines from the U.S. global supply. Today, we can announce that we have over a million Johnson & Johnson vaccines headed to Gambia, Senegal, Zambia, and Niger,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced at the beginning of her briefing on Monday.
She also announced a donation of three million vaccine doses by the United States to Guatemala on Tuesday, describing it as a continuation “our prioritization of Latin American countries.”
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“As these shipments demonstrate, the United States is fulfilling our promise to be an arsenal of vaccines for the world, and we’re proud to be donating these doses to save lives and help those in need,” Psaki said.
On Friday, the U.S. government announced that following close collaboration between the African Union (AU)/ African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), COVAX and the United States Government, AU Member States were set to receive approximately 25 million COVID-19 vaccines to enhance coverage across the continent – contributing to the AU target of vaccinating at least 60% of the African population. The shipments of the donated doses follow from the pledge made by President Biden in May to share 80 million doses globally.
The first shipments, planned for the coming days, will see nearly a million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine delivered to Burkina Faso, Djibouti, and Ethiopia.
In total, approximately 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be made available to 49 African countries in the coming weeks. The African Union/Africa CDC, AVAT, AFreximbank, COVAX and the US Government have collaborated in the process to support countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines and readiness for delivery.
“In partnership with the African Union and COVAX, the United States is proud to donate 25 million COVID-19 vaccines to 49 African countries. The Biden Administration is committed to leading the global response to the pandemic by providing safe and effective vaccines to the world. Working together, we can save lives and bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end,” said Gayle Smith, Coordinator for COVID-19 Recovery and Global Health, US Department of State.
“Today is a proud moment for Africa in ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
“We appreciate the US Government for their support in helping contribute to the AU target to vaccinate 60% of the population in Africa especially at this moment when we are witnessing the third-wave in a number of African countries,” said Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy.
“We are pleased to be working closely with the African Union and the US Government to ensure equitable access and timely delivery of approximately 25 million doses to the continent. As the continent battles a surge in cases, we need collective action as we work towards our shared goal of protecting the African population and turning the tide globally against the pandemic,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which leads on procurement and delivery at scale for COVAX.
“The donation of about 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Africa by the U.S. Government is a welcome significant gesture. As part of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) efforts, Afreximbank put in place a US$2 billion Advance Procurement Commitment (APC) Guarantee facility, which ultimately made it possible to secure access to 400 million doses of Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. These combined efforts give reason to be optimistic that the African Union’s goal of at least 60% vaccination coverage will be achieved soon,” said Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank.
“Only through Africa’s determination, and our global collective effort to ensure that everyone everywhere has access to the vaccine, will we be able to come out of this pandemic, knowing that we did not leave anyone behind, especially Africa,” said Dr Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
All doses will be delivered by COVAX, which expects to deliver 620 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021, rising to 1 billion doses by the end of the first quarter of 2022. This will contribute to the AU’s goal of 60% coverage.