Fact Sheet: Saving Lives and Livelihoods

COVID-19 vaccines for Africa

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To date, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has infected over 170 million people globally, resulting in more than5 million deaths. In Africa, the number of reported COVID-19 cases has surpassed 4.8 million, resulting in more than 130,000 deaths.

On August 20, 2020, the African Union launched the African COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy. The African Union’s goal under its Vaccine Strategy is to vaccinate at least 60 percent of its population (750 million people or its entire adult population) by the end of 2022.

The number of vaccines available to Africa represents a small portion of the global supply. So far, less than two percent of Africans have received at least one vaccine dose.

The partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and the Africa CDC will build on the tremendous and ongoing efforts of AVATT, COVAX, WHO, and governments to provide access to vaccines to Africa. COVAX and AVATT combined will provide vaccines for 45-50 percent of Africa’s population, leaving approximately 10 to 15 percent – between 125 million-188 million people – that still need to be covered to achieve the African Union’s goal of vaccinating 60 percent of Africa’s population by the end of 2022.

In support of this goal, the Mastercard Foundation will deploy $1.3 billion over the next three years in partnership with the Africa CDC as part of a bold new initiative aimed at Saving Lives and Livelihoods in Africa.

This initiative will acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people, support the delivery of vaccinations to millions more across Africa, lay the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing in Africa through a focus on human capital development, and strengthen the Africa CDC.

The initiative will support AU Member States in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic through large-scale vaccination with safe and efficacious vaccines. The initiative is anchored in AU efforts towards COVID-19 vaccine equity, with governance structures that emphasize the strengthening of national, regional, and continental institutions.

This joint initiative will focus on four key areas:

Purchasing vaccines: The initiative will acquire safe and efficacious vaccines for at least 50 million people, to help close the gap in vaccine availability on the continent.

Deploying vaccines: The Africa CDC will consult Member States’ Ministries of Health and other relevant institutions. The initiative will identify and address needs for the successful distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This includes the following:

  • Procurement and transportation of vaccines, ancillaries, and other supplies as well as in-country logistics.
  • Scale up COVID-19 vaccination centres (CVCs) and train workforce to improve the speed and performance of vaccine deployment.
  • Community engagement and communication to promote vaccinations and address vaccine hesitancy.
  • Pharmacovigilance to monitor, evaluate, and manage adverse events.
  • Genomic sequencing to identify potential variants.
  • Technical assistance to national vaccination programs.

Expanding vaccine manufacturing in Africa: The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of enabling Africa to produce critical pharmaceutical products – including vaccines – for its own health security. Enabling the continental manufacturing of vaccines will require a skilled workforce to drive, in the mid-term, critical areas such as process design, quality assurance (including the setup of quality management systems to achieve Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and laboratory testing. In the longer-term, this will be complemented by the skills necessary to drive R&D on the continent. The initiative will invest in developing the human capital to enable vaccine manufacturing on the continent.

Strengthening the Africa CDC: The Africa CDC is a technical institution formed by the AU in 2016 to support public health needs of the continent. This initiative will help to ensure the Africa CDC has the capacity and resources to oversee a historic, regional vaccination exercise, to prepare for future health crises, and to lead public health improvements across the continent.

The Africa CDC will work with a range of implementing partners, bringing together their diverse strengths to achieve the joint objectives of this initiative. For example, the Africa CDC will collaborate closely with multilateral actors and other local partners in individual countries, to distribute vaccines regionally.

The initiative will be anchored in several key principles and values:

  • Inclusion: Include all African countries and communities.
  • Equity: Reflect countries’ circumstances and needs.
  • Accountability: Use resources appropriately, efficiently, and transparently.
  • African and country-led: Empower African governments, public health institutions, and implementing organizations.
  • Collaboration: Work hand in hand with Member States and relevant partners in the field.
  • Improvements to national health systems: Strengthen national health systems through smart investments for vaccine deployments.

The Mastercard Foundation and Africa CDC will guide the initiative, evaluate impact, and have oversight on implementation.