The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reposed confidence in Africa’s capability to produce vaccines to boost the continent’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some countries on the continent are experiencing the fourth wave of the pandemic with the Omicron variant, while vaccination rates remained below 10 per cent.
Madam Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF Managing Director, said Africa needs to produce vaccines on its own, and stop depending on donor vaccines, to be able to meet the continent’s vaccination needs.
“In short, true resilience in Africa cannot depend on the repeated generosity of the international community. It requires scaled-up local manufacturing capacity and strengthened regional supply chains,” she said.
Madam Georgieva, said: “Africa vaccinating Africa is necessary – and it is achievable.”
“I have no doubt that Africa is up to the task. But the international community can – and must – help by stepping up cross-border collaboration in science; incentivizing technological transfers to better diversify the production of vaccines and other life-saving medical tools,” she said.
She said her travel to Africa made her witness at first-hand, “the creativity, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit that the region is bringing to bear in overcoming the crisis.”
“My visit to the Pasteur Institute in Dakar was one of these inspirations. The Institute is already a world-class leader in the fight against infectious diseases, having attracted and trained international and regional specialists.”
She indicated that the staff there were leading the way to address Africa’s immediate COVID-19 challenge, building the region’s capacity to fight future pandemics and meet Africa’s more routine immunisation needs.
She noted that vaccine manufacturing was a sophisticated enterprise that required specialised equipment, inputs, storage facilities, and skilled labour, “…But anyone who tells you that this cannot be done in Africa has not been paying attention.”
Madam Georgieva, therefore, called on the international community to support Africa in that regard, and said, “closing the $23 billion financing gap of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator, for example, would be a welcome first step, as a sizable portion of this effort is directed towards Africa.”
The IMF Managing Director explained that the progress toward vaccine equity was not just a matter of addressing vaccine supply, but countries also needed more support to strengthen “last mile” delivery.
“To be clear, this international support is not charity. This is a global public good! As we all know by now, no one is safe until everyone is safe,” she said.