IMF says Africa ‘urgently’ needs vaccines to curb COVID surge

COVID-19 infections in Africa are expected to surpass record highs within days, emphasizing the urgent need for vaccine supplies and financing in the region, according to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

In a blog post alongside IMF Africa Department director Abebe Selassie, Georgieva stated that Sub-Saharan Africa, which already has the lowest immunization rates in the world (less than 1% of the population), risks having its health-care systems swamped once more unless prompt action is taken.

“Without significant, upfront, international assistance – and without an effective region-wide vaccination effort – the near-term future of sub-Saharan Africa will be one of repeated waves of infection, which will exact an ever-increasing toll on the lives and livelihoods of the region’s most vulnerable, while also paralyzing investment, productivity, and growth,” 

“In short, without help the region risks being left further and further behind,” they stated, adding that as the pandemic continues to ravage Africa, more lethal versions of the new coronavirus will arise.

Officials from the IMF urged wealthier countries to share their vaccine stockpiles with Africa more swiftly through the COVAX project, stating that a goal of delivering a quarter of a billion doses to the continent by September should be the objective.

Vaccine manufacturers should shift supplies to Africa, while the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team should be funded at $2 billion, according to Georgieva and Selassie. This would allow the group to execute an optional contract for 180 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

They also demanded that cross-border export limitations on raw materials and finished vaccines be lifted to allow South Africa and India to reach full manufacturing capacity.

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