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French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to invest in boosting the production of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, to help close a gap in the availability of the shots between African and Western nations.
Macron who was speaking at a joint news conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria yesterday, explained that Africa made up about 20 percent of the world’s need for vaccines but only one percent of vaccine production.
‘Trying to lift the hurdles in order to allow vaccine production in South Africa and all of Africa, we are in favour of that,’ Macron said.
‘But what is the problem we are trying to overcome? What we need to do is vaccinate as soon as possible, as many people as possible. It is a matter of duty and solidarity,‘ he said.
‘The more time it takes, the more the virus is likely to mutate and to come back,’ Macron stated, adding that richer countries should provide any excess doses they have to poorer countries as quickly as possible.
He pledged that France will donate more than 30 million vaccine doses by the end of the year to the United Nations-backed COVAX global vaccine initiative.
According to the president, France already had a partnership with South Africa’s Biovac Institute and would soon launch a project with South African pharmaceutical company Aspen.
He reiterated support for waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, a move also supported by US President Joe Biden but opposed by Germany.
Sub-Saharan Africa has lagged behind the rest of the world with vaccination – less than two percent of its population has been immunised six months after the campaign started.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK