The Mastercard Foundation on Tuesday announced a $1.3 billion donation to boost Africa’s response to the coronavirus.

The funding, which will be distributed over three years in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), is expected to help acquire vaccines for more than 50 million of the continent’s 1.3 billion people, improve its vaccine manufacturing and delivery system and strengthen public health institutions.

The donation comes at a time when Africa is trying to keep apace with the rest of the world in vaccinating its population. According to the Africa CDC, Africa has up to now only managed to vaccinate less than 2% of its population.

President and CEO of MasterCard Foundation Reeta Roy says,” It will  acquire vaccines for 50 million people.”

At the G7  summit of the seven richest nations due to be held in London this week, vaccine inequality is likely to dominate talks.

Head of the Africa CDC Dr John Nkengasong said, “The G7 [must] launch a coordinated effort such as the Global Fund, quickly.”

South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who represented President Cyril Ramaphosa less than an hour before he was sent on special leave, called on rich nations to consider Africa’s place in the search of the vaccines.

The World Health Organisation has warned that Africa is in the throes of a third wave of COVID-19 infections but vaccine shipments to the continent have stopped. The continent of a billion people has only received 50 million doses.