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Ramaphosa to multilateral agencies: Buy Covid vaccines from African providers

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PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa told a global Covid-19 summit on Thursday that multilateral agencies and philanthropic organisations should buy vaccines and booster doses from African manufacturers to ensure that manufacturing capacity on the continent was retained.

South African firm Aspen’s Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing capacity is at risk because of a lack of orders.

“International agencies that have had a lot of money donated to (them) for purchasing and procuring vaccines for developing economy countries are not buying vaccines from African vaccine manufacturers. Even for those vaccines that are destined for African countries. This immediately just devalues the whole process of local manufacturing,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told the summit.

“This, ladies and gentlemen, must change.”

Ramaphosa’s comments came after pharmaceutical company Aspen APNJJ said it could slash its capacity to produce a Covid vaccine manufactured with drug substance from Johnson & Johnson.

After struggling early in the pandemic to secure Covid-19 vaccines as rich countries hoarded available doses, many African countries are now well-supplied with shots but have struggled to get them into arms. The challenges include hesitancy and logistics.

Ramaphosa told the summit, co-hosted by the US, that African manufacturers must be supported to ensure developing capabilities on the continent were retained.

“A number of African countries are now stepping up to produce vaccines for the 1.3 billion Africans … Vaccines produced in Africa must be procured in Africa for Africa’s people,” he said.

Additional reporting by REUTERS

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