Most Africans could be vaccinated by the end of 2021: Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the goal is for most Africans to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the year.
This as the continent has recorded more than 3.5 million cumulative infections and more than 88,000 fatalities.
He was speaking in his capacity as the chairperson of the African Union (AU) in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
“It has been a health, humanitarian, social and economic crisis for African countries, most of which are inadequately resourced to manage a health emergency of this size. Yet as unprecedented as the nature of the pandemic is, so too has been the manner in which African countries have come together to fight it,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the continent has relied on its own expertise, capabilities and institutions, including the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), to intensify its fight against the spread of the coronavirus. This led to the development of a continental response strategy which proved to be successful.
“In this way, working as one continent, we were able to achieve debt relief for many countries and financial assistance towards our Covid response and economic recovery. But as much as African countries went to the international community for support, we first helped ourselves by establishing and capitalising a continental Covid-19 response fund,” wrote Ramaphosa.
He hailed the continent’s ability to set up innovative and ground-breaking medical supplies platforms to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies in an affordable manner.
Ramaphosa said since Covid-19 vaccines became available, the continent was hard at work with the Covax facility to ensure it receives its fair share.
“Vaccine rollout has already commenced on the continent and we aspire to have the majority of the continent’s population vaccinated by the end of 2021 to achieve herd immunity.
“We have acted as one to protect health, people and livelihoods on the continent. In doing so, we have demonstrated our capacity for self-reliance and our ability to be the drivers of our own development,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s term as AU chairperson comes to an end this week. He expressed gratitude for the work done under the difficult climate of Covid-19.
Among his priorities at the union were the successful launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the economic empowerment of women. He said SA would continue to advocate for African women’s financial and economic inclusion.
SA will hand over the AU reins to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“South Africa will continue to play its part to foster integration on the continent, and support the incoming chair and organisation in its efforts to meet the aspirations of the AU’s Agenda 2063,” said Ramaphosa.