Mastercard Foundation delivers 151 200 J&J vaccine doses



MASERU – The Mastercard Foundation and Africa CDC jointly announced that 151 200 doses of J&J Covid vaccine purchased under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative have reached Lesotho and are set for distribution. The shipment is part of a first tranche of vaccines to be delivered under the initiative. Through Saving Lives and Livelihoods, the Mastercard Foundation is purchasing vaccines for more than 65 million people across Africa.

The vaccines will be distributed within countries by UNICEF. Launched in June 2021, Saving Lives and Livelihoods is now a US$1.5 billion (about M24 billion) partnership that aims to enable vaccination for millions of people, develop a workforce for vaccine manufacturing, and strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity to oversee a historic vaccination campaign and effectively respond to future outbreaks.

Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, said “Timely delivery of these vaccines underscores the effectiveness of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust. Working with the Africa CDC and multiple organisations, the Mastercard Foundation will support the roll out of vaccinations to millions across the continent. More remains to be done to urgently increase vaccination rates. We call on all actors to step forward to save lives and livelihoods in Africa.”

Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC said they are steadily picking up momentum in the continental vaccination effort. In September, the first tranche of AVAT-purchased vaccines, he said, began rolling out to 39 countries, noting that now they are announcing the delivery of vaccines purchased through the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative, and are working hard on the ground to get jabs-in-arms, which is the ultimate measure of success.

Vaccines purchased under Saving Lives and Livelihoods build on a historic agreement negotiated by the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) earlier this year for the purchase of 400 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as a more recent agreement for the purchase of 50 million Moderna vaccines.

The Mastercard Foundation will fund the purchase of 57 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines and is seeking to purchase approximately 17 million Moderna vaccines. The AVAT mechanism was created to enable African countries to pool together resources to directly purchase vaccines at discounted prices made possible by volume orders. “Through the AVAT, we have secured enough vaccines to vaccinate 450 million people by September 2022. In this regard, Africa has met its side of the bargain. So far, the Mastercard Foundation is the only foundation that has stepped up to support Africa in this work.

They are covering AVAT’s entire November shipment — and we remain grateful for their support. We hope to see other foundations and corporations get behind the local and national delivery of vaccines,” said Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy. Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank also noted that this is a remarkable collaborative effort through the AVAT, which Afreximbank is proud to have played their part in.

The arrangement for the supply and distribution of vaccines, he said, was configured on the back of a US$2 billion (over M30 billion) guarantee issued by Afreximbank to the vaccine manufacturers, with the support of partners. Through these combined efforts, the re-opening of trade and commerce throughout the continent will be accelerated.

Dr Vera Songwe, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Affairs for Africa (UNECA) said AVAT vaccines, partly manufactured in South Africa, are a true testament that local production and pooled procurement as envisioned in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) are key to the attainment of a more sustainable post-COVID economic recovery across the continent.

UNICEF is also supporting the procurement of vaccines for the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative and the larger AVAT vaccine purchase effort. UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore also highlighted that UNICEF is proud to continue their support to AVAT and Africa CDC to help vaccinate the millions of people in Africa who have been left behind.

With their long history of procuring and delivering vaccines all around the world, they are committed to helping reduce vaccine inequity and keeping people safe.” The roll out of vaccines under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will be led by UNICEF which is overseeing vaccine delivery for the overall AVAT effort. UNICEF has extensive experience delivering vaccines, and a strong and well-established relationship with African countries.

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