The European Union has pledged 200 million vaccine doses to low-income nations in Africa. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen used her State of the EU speech to announce the new donation. The donation is set to be delivered in the middle of 2022.
Although the EU has pledged to give these vaccine doses, low-income countries must wait to deliver these doses till the middle of next year. Von der Leyen also is investing $1.2 billion to increase vaccine production in parts of Africa, which does not necessarily mean that Africans will be receiving these doses.
African health officials have said that they need under 800 million doses to vaccinate 60% of its population. Last week, 145 million doses were procured, according to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although vaccination rates in Europe and the US are over 50%, only 3.5% of people in Africa have been vaccinated. There are fewer than 10 African manufacturers of vaccine production, and are based in Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia. The World Health Organization reports that there is very limited upstream production of vaccines.
The WHO reports, “Vaccine manufacturing is complex and requires huge financial investments and a long-term vision. It’s a long-distance race not a 100-metre dash. One must begin with the end in mind i.e. the vaccine market in Africa and the way vaccine procurement and supply currently occurs. There is a need to focus core issues such as innovative financing, enabling local and regional regulatory capacity to assure quality, critical technical elements including skills development, technology transfer and product development partnerships, Good Manufacturing Practice facility design and establishment.”
Therefore, the EU and non-governmental organizations pledge of vaccines to Africa is an overall benefit, although there are nuances, as previously elaborated upon, that must be understood through the global inequalities that exist between low and high income countries.