Ramaphosa urges agencies to order Africa-made Covid-19 vaccines.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
President Cyril Ramaphosa told a global Covid-19 summit on Thursday that International agencies and charitable foundations providing Covid-19 vaccines for Africa should order African-made vaccines.
Ramaphosa's comments came after pharmaceutical company Aspen APNJJ said it could slash its capacity to produce a Covid vaccine manufactured with drug substance from Johnson & Johnson.
After struggling early in the pandemic to secure Covid-19 vaccines as rich countries hoarded available doses, many African countries are now well-supplied with shots but have struggled to get them into arms. The challenges include hesitancy and logistics.
Ramaphosa told the summit, co-hosted by the US, that African manufacturers must be supported to ensure developing capabilities on the continent were retained.
"International agencies that have had a lot of money donated to (them) for purchasing and procuring vaccines for developing economy countries are not buying vaccines from African vaccine manufacturers. Even those vaccines that are destined for African countries," Ramaphosa said. "This immediately just devalues the whole process of local manufacturing.
"A number of African countries are now stepping up to produce vaccines for the 1.3 billion Africans… Vaccines produced in Africa must be procured in Africa for Africa’s people," he said.
U.S. President Joe Biden appealed to world leaders to step up efforts to respond to the next phase in the global pandemic, as the United States itself reaches a grim COVID-19 point – without the billions of dollars in emergency funding Biden has asked of Congress.
"Today, we mark a tragic milestone here in the United States: one million COVID deaths," Biden said in a pre-recorded message Thursday morning to attendees of the second U.S-led virtual COVID summit, co-hosted by Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal.
The U.S. has recorded about 82 million COVID cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Estimates of the total deaths vary, but as of Thursday Johns Hopkins University data said 999,009 deaths have been recorded.
New U.S. cases and hospitalizations have been rising in recent weeks, but the number of deaths has stayed relatively low, at around 300 per day, down from more than 3,000 per day back in February.
Biden added, "Around the world, many more millions have died. Millions of children have been orphaned, with thousands still dying every day. Now is the time for us to act. All of us together. We all must do more, must honor those we have lost by doing everything we can to prevent as many deaths as possible."
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Video Courtesy of White House.