The World Bank has pledged $12 billion for the vaccination of 400 million people across Africa against Covid-19.

The funding will be channelled through Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative of the African Union.

According to World Bank, the funding compliments COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“The World Bank is very pleased to support African countries through this partnership with the African Union to quickly provide hundreds of millions of doses,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass on June 21, 2021.”Working together, we can expedite doses to countries and support deployment. Countries urgently need more pathways for acquiring vaccines that match their needs and have early delivery schedules,” he added.

Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy and coordinator of the AVATT, welcomed the funding.

“As a result of this joint initiative between the World Bank and African institutions such as the Africa Import Export Bank and the Africa Centre for Disease Control, we now have the capacity to vaccinate at least 400 million people, or 30% of our population of 1.3 billion,” said Masiyiwa. “We really appreciate the extraordinary partnership on this initiative between the AU Vaccine Champion, HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, and David Malpass, the President of the World Bank,” he added.

The World Bank said it has $12 billion in vaccine financing available to help countries purchase and distribute vaccines and address readiness issues. It has already approved operations to support vaccine roll out in 36 countries.

“By end June, the World Bank expects to be supporting vaccination efforts in 50 countries, two thirds of which are in Africa,” the Bank said in a statement.

The World Bank also has strong partnerships with regional institutions such as the Africa Center for Disease Control, West African Health Organization, and the African Union Commission to enhance cross-border collaboration on disease surveillance, preparedness and response.

The World Bank-financed COVID-19 vaccine operations allow countries to purchase vaccines through COVAX, through regional initiatives, and through bilateral procurement from manufacturers. As such, the Bank has been working closely with AVATT to see that countries in Africa can use World Bank financing to purchase COVID-19 doses through the AVATT initiative as well.

The goal of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which is an initiative of the African Union Commission, Africa CDC, Afreximbank, the AU Special Envoys for COVID-19, and UNECA, is to provide the continent with sufficient and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines. It has already successfully negotiated 220 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine for use by African countries, with an option for 180 million more based on demand. AVATT works and coordinates closely with the African Ministers of Finance in the efforts towards realizing herd immunity for full reopening of the continent’s economies.

“A key priority in this initiative is to make sure the purchase of vaccines translates into people getting vaccinated,” noted Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the ECA.