Moderna announced Tuesday morning that the U.S. based biotechnical company has reached a deal to ship around 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa.
Africa is currently the world’s least vaccinated continent, with only 8.4 percent of residents having received at least one shot of a Covid vaccine, and 5.5 percent fully vaccinated.
Countries in the continent have largely relied on donations from countries outside of Africa, as they were behind the U.S. and European countries in the line to get vaccines.
In order for this deal to go through, the U.S. allowed the African Union to jump ahead in line, deferring 33 million doses that were intended to be purchased by America between December and February.
Moderna announced of Tuesday that it had reached a deal with the African Union to ship 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the continent by the end of quarter 2 of 2022. It is the first major deal between the continent and the company. Pictured: A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Lagos, Nigeria
In order to deliver the vaccine to Africa, the United States deferred a shipment of 33 million doses of the Moderna jab (pictured)
‘It is a great day for us,’ the African Union special envoy on COVID-19, Strive Masiyiwa, told reporters, after African nations faced months of frustration over rich countries’ vaccine hoarding and delayed deliveries of doses.
Moderna, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said the deal was done using its ‘lowest tiered prices’.
‘We believe our vaccine can play an important role in addressing the needs of low-income countries given its combination of high Phase 3 efficacy against COVID-19, strong durability in the real-world evidence, and superior storage and handling conditions,’ Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said in a statement.
‘We recognize that access to COVID-19 vaccines continues to be a challenge in many parts of the world and we remain committed to helping to protect as many people as possible around the globe.’
As part of the deal, Moderna will deliver 15 million doses to the continent before the end of the year.
Another 35 million doses will be shipped to the continent in the first quarter of 2022, and 60 million in the year’s second quarter.
It is the first time the African Union has struck a deal to purchase doses from Moderna.
If the full contract with Moderna is activated, African nations can reach the goal of vaccinating 450 million people by September 2022, Masiyiwa said.
That’s half of the target of vaccinating 70% of the continent’s population, or 900 million people.
African nations earlier struck a deal with Johnson & Johnson for up to 400 million doses.
Moderna said this agreement is separate from its deal with the global COVAX project to supply up to 500 million doses from late this year through 2022.
COVAX aims to supply doses to low- and middle-income countries.
And yet with all these vaccines, the African continent will not hit the mark of fully vaccinating 10 percent of its population by the end of this year, said Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa.
Africa is by far the least vaccinated continent in the world. Less than 10% of the population has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to more than 55% in Asia, Europe, North America and South America
Less than 9 percent of the population in Africa has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, said Seth Berkley of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, calling it ‘unacceptable.’
For comparison, all of Asia, Europe, North America and South America have gotten at least 55 percent of their populations at least partially vaccinated.
He said COVAX by the end of this year expects to have 470 million doses available for Africa and exceed 900 million doses by the end of March.
He said 127 million doses have been delivered so far.