Rwanda’s vaccination drive received a boost from the the Mastercard Foundation and Africa CDC who jointly delivered 151,200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines purchased under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative as the country exceeds the 30 percent target of all the people who are supposed to be vaccinated.
The vaccines which arrived in Rwanda are set for distribution as the country looks at the country continues its effort to vaccinate at least 70% of the population at the end of next year.
The shipment is part of a first tranche of vaccines to be delivered under the initiative. The Saving Lives and Livelihoods, the Mastercard Foundation is purchasing vaccines for more than 65 million people across Africa. The vaccines will be distributed within countries by UNICEF.
Launched in June 2021, Saving Lives and Livelihoods is now a $1.5 billion partnership that aims to enable vaccination for millions of people, develop a workforce for vaccine manufacturing, and strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity to oversee a historic vaccination campaign and effectively respond to future outbreaks.
Commenting on the delivery, Dr. Daniel Ngamije – Rwanda Minister of Health stressed on the importance of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns ongoing across the country. “Our target is to vaccinate more than 70% of our population before the year 2022 ends. We are grateful for this delivery of vaccines because they will allow us to fully vaccinate more than 1.6% of our target population” he said
“Timely delivery of these vaccines underscores the effectiveness of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust. Working with the Africa CDC and multiple organizations, the Mastercard Foundation will support the roll out of vaccinations to millions across the continent. More remains to be done to urgently increase vaccination rates. We call on all actors to step forward to save lives and livelihoods in Africa,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation.
“We are steadily picking up momentum in the continental vaccination effort. In September, the first tranche of AVAT-purchased vaccines began rolling out to 39 countries. Now we are announcing the delivery of vaccines purchased through the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative. And we are working hard on the ground to get jabs-in-arms, which is the ultimate measure of success,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC.
Vaccines purchased under Saving Lives and Livelihoods build on a historic agreement negotiated by the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) earlier this year for the purchase of 400 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well as a more recent agreement for the purchase of 50 million Moderna vaccines. The Mastercard Foundation will fund the purchase of 57 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines and is seeking to purchase approximately 17 million Moderna vaccines.
The AVAT mechanism was created to enable African countries to pool together resources to directly purchase vaccines at discounted prices made possible by volume orders.
“Through the AVAT, we have secured enough vaccines to vaccinate 450 million people by September 2022. In this regard, Africa has met its side of the bargain. So far, the Mastercard Foundation is the only foundation that has stepped up to support Africa in this work. They are covering AVAT’s entire November shipment—and we remain grateful for their support. We hope to see other foundations and corporations get behind the local and national delivery of vaccines,” said Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy.
“This is a remarkable collaborative effort through the AVAT, which Afreximbank are proud to have played our part in. The arrangement for the supply and distribution of vaccines was configured on the back of a US$2 billion guarantee issued by Afreximbank to the vaccine manufacturers, with the support of partners. Through these combined efforts, the reopening of trade and commerce throughout the continent will be accelerated,” said Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank.
“AVAT vaccines, partly manufactured in South Africa, are a true testament that local production and pooled procurement as envisioned in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are key to the attainment of a more sustainable post-COVID economic recovery across the continent,” said Dr. Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-SecretaryGeneral and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic for Africa (UNECA).
The roll out of vaccines under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will be led by UNICEF, who are overseeing vaccine delivery for the overall AVAT effort. UNICEF has extensive experience delivering vaccines, and a strong and well-established relationship with African countries. UNICEF is also supporting the procurement of vaccines for the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative and the larger AVAT vaccine purchase effort.
“UNICEF is proud to continue our support to AVAT and Africa CDC to help vaccinate the millions of people in Africa who have been left behind,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “With our long history of procuring and delivering vaccines all around the world, we are committed to helping reduce vaccine inequity and keeping people safe.”
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programs.
The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is a special purpose vehicle, incorporated in Mauritius. AVAT acts as a centralised purchasing agent on behalf of the African Union (AU) Member States, to secure the necessary vaccines and blended financing resources for achieving Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60% of Africa’s population based on a whole-of-Africa approach.