By Omar Mohammed
NAIROBI, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Africa needs about $9 billion to finance enough of COVID-19 vaccines to halt the pandemic on the continent, but a bigger problem is accessing that supply amid the global race for doses, an African Export Import Bank official said on Wednesday.
Hippolyte Fofack, Afreximbank chief economist, told Reuters the Cairo-based bank and other development finance institutions are working with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to obtain vaccines for the novel coronavirus.
But African nations cannot compete with wealthier governments that have secured huge supplies of inoculations, he said.
“If the supply of COVID-19 vaccines is left to (the) market, many developing countries will be essentially rationed out of it, Africa included,” he said. “The key constraint is the supply of vaccines. Even if Africa had 100 billion dollars, we will not be able to access enough doses.”
He said African countries will need to ask wealthy governments for excess vaccines.
Afreximbank estimates that Africa will need to spend about $5.8 billion on purchasing vaccines and about $3.3 billion to deliver them to reach the target of vaccinating at least 60% of 1.3 billion Africans beginning in 2021.
Some funding will come from COVAX, a global alliance co-led by the World Health Organisation that aims to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries.
COVAX said last week it had agreements in place for nearly 2 billion doses, with the first deliveries due in early 2021, but it was unclear how many of those would go to African countries.
South Africa said earlier this month it expects to receive its first batch of vaccines from COVAX in the second quarter of 2021.
Fofack said he hopes that vaccinations will begin on the continent in the second quarter of 2021. (Reporting by Omar Mohammed Editing by Maggie Fick and Steve Orlofsky)
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