COVID-19: AU Coalition Calls For African-Made Vaccines

The Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA)  has said that Nigeria and other countries in the region need to commence the production of essential vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases.

The Executive Director of the coalition, Ms Souad Aden Osman, made the call Saturday in Benin City while briefing newsmen on the launch of the Independent Task Team on Equitable and Universal Access to Vaccines and Vaccination in Africa.

She said doing so was key to ensuring equitable access to vaccines on the continent.

CoDA is an independent international initiative of the African Union, African Development Bank (AfDB), African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

It promotes open and inclusive dialogue with a view to giving Africa a greater voice on issues relating to peace, security, governance and development. 

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She said: “We need to localize our solutions to this pandemic that has crippled the whole world and which we are coming out as if we are the worst unprepared continent.

“Countries like Cuba is vaccinating its people with its own vaccine but Nigeria is not.

“Africa should come out with its own solution and stop being at the receiving end of everything.

“We seem to be consumers of everything; ideas, medications, and vaccines. 

“We are recognizing fully that the international community does not have to take responsibility for what is happening in our continent, and we cannot make everything a charity case.

“We cannot make everything that is important to us a moral issue.”

Osman said the involvement of the private sector was important in pulling the continent out of the woods.

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She said the launch of the task team which is done in collaboration with the Igbinedion University Okada, Edo State will, among others, address issues such as gaps in research and development, and capacity building on vaccines development.

Mansur Ahmed,  President of Pan-African Manufacturers Association,  and an Executive Director at Dangote Group said the COVID-19 pandemic further underscored the need for the continent to improve not just the supply of vaccines but medical facilities, respirators, and basic medicines in an equitable manner, adding that otherwise, Africa might be in serious trouble.

He said in 2020, Nigeria’s pharmaceutical sector almost shut down because it could not get basic pharmaceutical ingredients, and drugs because countries like India and China that it had been importing from stopped exporting some of the materials.

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He said, while other continents have developed their own vaccines,  and vaccinated their population, Africa has continued to depend on the supply of vaccines and has vaccinated less than 2 per cent of its population

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