WORLD AU to buy up to 110m Moderna vaccines

WORLD

AU to buy up to 110m Moderna vaccines

Global Times

19:06, October 26, 2021

Participants attend the 33rd ordinary session of the assembly of heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, Feb. 9, 2020. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

Participants attend the 33rd ordinary session of the assembly of heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, Feb. 9, 2020. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

The African Union (AU) intends to buy up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc in an arrangement brokered in part by the White House, which will defer delivery of some doses intended for the US to facilitate the deal, officials told Reuters.

The AU's doses of Moderna vaccines will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of 2021, 35 million in the first quarter of 2022 and up to 60 million in the second quarter, according to a report by Reuters on Tuesday.

"This is important as it allows us to increase the number of vaccines available immediately," AU novel coronavirus envoy Strive Masiyiwa said in an email.

"We urge other vaccine producing countries to follow the lead of the [US government] and give us similar access to buy this and other vaccines," the AU envoy said.

Masiyiwa said the Moderna purchase represented the first time the 55-member AU had secured vaccines that were not fully produced in Africa.

The new shipments of COVID-19 vaccine are well below what Africa needs to vaccinate its 1.3 billion people, who have had far less access to the life-saving vaccines than more prosperous parts of the world.

Getting access to Moderna vaccines adds diversity to the AU's vaccine supply with different storage requirements.

The Biden administration is deferring delivery of 33 million doses it had bought from Moderna to give the AU its "spot in line" to make a purchase, according to Natalie Quillian, the White House's deputy coordinator for COVID-19 response.

"We are grateful to have helped negotiate this encouraging step forward between Moderna and the African Union that will significantly expand access to vaccines on the continent in the near-term," Quillian said.

The US, which has seen more than 700,000 people die from COVID-19, is flush with vaccines.

The delayed Moderna deliveries will not have an impact on efforts to provide booster shots to already inoculated Americans, Quillian said.

Moderna said that it was working to make it possible to fill doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa by 2023 and has plans to build a manufacturing plant on the continent.

"This is the first step in our long-term partnership with the African Union," Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said in a statement, referring to a Memorandum of Understanding to make up to 110 million doses of Moderna vaccines for the AU.

In September, the AU accused COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers of denying African countries a fair chance to buy vaccines and urged manufacturing countries, in particular India, to lift export restrictions on vaccines and their components.

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