The African Union (AU) has pledged $1.3 million to accelerate development, production and equitable global access to new COVID-19 essential health technologies.

AU Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa also pledged South Africa’s Biovac Institute to support the global effort to develop, manufacture and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. The South African President was participating in a Virtual Pledging Conference convened by the European Union (EU) on Monday.

The event was co-hosted by World Health Organisation Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; President Emmanuel Macron of France; President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was aimed at mobilising resources for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recently launched global collaboration to accelerate development, production and equitable global access to new COVID-19 essential health technologies.

President Ramaphosa says Africa has responded to the coronavirus pandemic with urgency and purpose.

“The African Union has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to direct resources towards the continent’s response. To date, a total of $61 million has been committed to the Fund and to support the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.”

He says countries in the continent are supporting each other in the fight against the pandemic.

“As a continent, African countries are supporting each other through regional coronavirus task forces to oversee screening, detection and diagnosis; infection prevention and control.”

Ramaphosa has called for global unity in the fight against the virus and its impact on developing countries.

“This is a health emergency of truly global proportions, yet developing countries are particularly vulnerable to its impact. We require coordinated and consistent international action so that all countries are sufficiently capacitated. We call on all countries to make tangible commitments to bolster the global effort, but in particular to support countries that bear the brunt of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.”

In the video below, leaders of various organisations pledge towards the fight against COVID-19: 

More than 3 million people have contracted the virus worldwide with at least 248 000 deaths recorded. While the West has suffered the most severe outbreak, concerns have been raised over the rapid rise of infections on the continent. The World Health Organisation has said the virus is threatening the continent’s fragile health systems.