South Africa's presidency is warning that Africa has few options to procure COVID-19 vaccines as the outbreak of the disease worsens across many parts of the continent, reported Bloomberg.
Pfizer and BioNTech have offered to supply Africa with 50 million COVID-19 vaccines for health workers between March and the end of this year. Moderna has no supplies for Africa, while AstraZeneca has no shots for the continent in 2021 and has directed the African Union to negotiate with the Serum Institute of India, which is making the vaccine on its behalf.
The response from South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, who also chairs African Union, comes after days of criticism in South Africa over the country's vaccine strategy. Even though four vaccine trials are underway there, South Africa has only arranged to buy enough shots for 10% of its population through the WHO co-led COVAX initiative.
The cost of Pfizer's vaccines are "prohibitive," the presidency said, while a representative of the drugmaker confirmed talks with the African Union, but declined to give further details.
Meanwhile, discussions are taking place with Johnson & Johnson, which is conducting a trial in South Africa and plans to make 300 million doses a year at a factory in the country owned by Aspen Pharmacare when the shot is approved.
Johnson & Johnson "has not clarified whether Africa will benefit from vaccines manufactured in South Africa," the presidency said, adding "we still have to negotiate the price that is affordable to Africa."
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