The World Bank announced a partnership with the African Union Tuesday to finance the acquisition and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine for 400 million people in Africa.
In a remote news conference via Zoom, World Bank Managing Operations Director Axel van Trotsenburg said the World Bank is providing $12 billion to not only acquire but deploy 400 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — a single dose shot — in support of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative.
The announcement comes a day after African finance ministers and the World Bank Group met to fast-track vaccine acquisition on the continent and avoid a third wave of COVID-19.
Van Trotsenburg said the bank is making the financing available in an effort to address the imbalance in vaccine access between the world’s wealthy and not-so-wealthy nations.
He said, “Less than one percent of the African population has been vaccinated. Africa has been marginalized in this global effort to get a vaccine. We have to correct this unfairness; and given that this is a global pandemic, we need global solutions and global solidarity.”
The project will be a big step toward helping the African Union meet its goal to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population by 2022.
Van Trotsenburg said the regional effort complements the work of the World Health Organization-managed COVAX vaccine cooperative and comes at a time of rising COVID-19 cases in the region.
The World Bank has already approved operations to support vaccine roll outs in 36 countries. By the end of June, the World Bank expects to be supporting vaccination efforts in 50 countries, two thirds of which are in Africa.