The African Union has secured nearly 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, a continental official said Tuesday.
According to The Associated Press, Nicaise Ndembi, senior science adviser for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview that the current AU chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, would announce the news on Wednesday.
“We plan to have these by the end of the first quarter” of 2021, Ndembi said. “We’re expecting 600 million doses from the COVAX facility,” he said, adding that African officials are still waiting on the details, so “we’re happy we have alternative solutions.”
He reports that African officials have approached at least ten vaccine manufacturers and developers and are seeking to vaccinate 60% of its population — around 780 million people.
The announcement comes a day after Ramaphosa extended coronavirus restrictions in the country, citing a “massive increase” in Covid-19 cases driven by a variant discovered there last year.
“The pandemic in our country is now at its most devastating. The number of new infections, the number of hospital admissions, and the deaths that continue to take place come far higher than it has ever been since the first case was recorded in our country in March of 2020,” Ramaphosa said televised national address.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, South Africa has reported at least 1,246,643 Covid-19 cases, including 33,579 deaths.
The Africa CDC says that currently 19 out of 55 countries have reported case fatality rates (the proportion of those with Covid who die) higher than the global average of 2.2%. More than 3 million people on the continent have tested positive for COVID-19.