President Cyril Ramaphosa says Africa is faced with, what he calls, the most dangerous challenge in terms of shortage and access to vaccine doses.

He says less than 1% of the continent’s population is fully vaccinated. Ramaphosa says vaccines are flooding into developed countries but just trickling into Africa, stressing that the lack of access to vaccines undermines the efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For as long as the virus continues to spread in one part of the world, it remains a threat to the whole world. And we know how this virus started spreading. It started spreading from one location in the world in no time it engulfed the whole world. So if we run into a little corner saying we will contain it here through vaccinations and leave other parts we are actually just working backward,” the President says.

Presidents Ramaphosa, Macron attend a vaccine discussion at UP:

Patent waiver 

President Ramaphosa says the continent is willing and able to begin vaccine manufacturing. He says all that’s needed now is the green light for knowledge and technology transfer.

On its part, France says it’s committed to ensuring that Africa develops the capacity to begin manufacturing vaccines in the near future.

French President Emmanuel Macron says he will push for the patent waiver on COVID-19 products at the upcoming G7 meeting next month.

Macron says the transfer of technology and knowledge is critical in fighting the pandemic.

The waiver was tabled by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organisation.

The United States of America has expressed support for it.

University of Pretoria holds high-level dialogue on vaccine:

‘Capacitate Africa’ 

Speaking at a high-level summit about building capacity to manufacture vaccines at the University of Pretoria, Aspen Pharmacare Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Stephen Saad said security underwriter and technology license transfer are two key elements to ensure that Africa has the capacity of manufacturing its own COVID-19 vaccines.

Saad has appealed to the international community to capacitate the continent.

“The underwriter is important because it doesn’t give confidence in your investment but what it does do is it keeps your factory active. That means you can retain good people, you get the experience you can go to the next step. Probably the most next step is technology transfers because these give you independence in your chain supply and it ensures that there is no continent that is left behind. This commitment to take transfers would really help Africa to help itself. It will help us to make the continent autonomous,” says Saad.

‘Partnerships critical’

Biovac Institute CEO, Dr Morena Makhoana, says partnerships are critical in ensuring that enough vaccines are manufactured and distributed in the African continent.

He says Biovac has partnered with the government to be part of companies that manufacture vaccines in South Africa.

“We are very happy that we’re able to commence production and shortly after this year, we will be doing our second production against pneumonia vaccine. These are route vaccines that are important. It is important that our children get vaccines. But it is also important that the facilities get to be sustainable through routine manufacture. This is so that we can upscale when pandemic like this COVID. As we are looking forward to COVID-19 vaccines I think it is quite important that we recognise firstly Africa has the capability,” says Makhoana.

The African Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) hopes the continent will produce up to 60% of the vaccines it needs in the next 20 years.

Currently, the continent only produces 1% of all its vaccines and imports the rest.