IMF bats for Africa vaccineFriday, January 14, 2022
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates the financing gap to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic at US$23 billion, with Africa cited as the region most affected by the lack of funds to deal with the disease.
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, outlined the figure on Wednesday as she urged the international community to close the gap “as a welcoming first step”, while making the case for Africa to produce its own vaccines.
Georgieva's push for Africa comes as the continent's vaccination rate continues to hover below 10 per cent.
In notes released Wednesday, she warned “as Africa faces a fourth wave of infections, the emergence of the Omicron variant is yet another reminder that the region's ability to equip itself to fight this pandemic and address future health care needs has global implications.”
Under the plan to end the pandemic outlined last year, the IMF and other international organisations targetted having 40 per cent of the world population vaccinated by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by mid-2022. However, in Africa, only seven countries have vaccination rates above 40 per cent while “the 70 per cent target seems increasingly ambitious.”
“Africa remains reliant on COVID-19 vaccine imports and donations. The most immediate priority must be to guarantee predictability in vaccine deliveries, including through COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT),” Georgieva pointed out.
But that apart, she called on the international community to “help by stepping up cross-border collaboration in science; incentivising technological transfers to better diversify the production of vaccines and other life-saving medical tools” to Africa.
Georgieva outlined that helping Africa “is not charity” but “a global public good”, arguing “true resilience in Africa cannot depend on the repeated generosity of the international community. It requires scaled-up local manufacturing capacity and strengthened regional supply chains.”
Currently, there are 12 production facilities, either in operation or in the pipeline, across six African countries — Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa — that are expected to produce a wide range of COVID-19 vaccines.
Moreover, Georgieva stressed that Africa still requires access to tests, treatments, and protective equipment.
In this respect, she referred to the Institut Pasteur in Dakar — the world-class institute that focuses on fighting against infectious diseases in the continent — as one of the promising tools to be used to counter the pandemic.
“It is critical the region has the tools and the necessary funds to build capacity to produce and manufacture vaccines,” she said.