SA is participating in several research initiatives with continental and international partners as part of the global effort to develop, manufacture and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa, who is also the current African Union (AU) chair, made the remark at the 73rd World Health Assembly — the first ever to be convened virtually.
“To turn back the frontiers of the pandemic, we also need to deepen international collaboration around research and development and investment in essential medical technologies in Covid-19 diagnostics and therapeutics and in vaccines,” said Ramaphosa.
“We fully support the initiative by the WHO [World Health Organisation] — together with many governments, non-profit organisations and industry leaders — to speed up the development and production of vaccines and therapeutics, and to ensure that they are distributed quickly and equitably across the globe.”
He said there must also be equitable access to medical equipment, technologies and best practices to combat Covid-19.
Africa is extremely vulnerable to the ravages of the coronavirus, he said, and needed every possible type of support and assistance, including much-needed resources, to bolster its response and offset a potentially devastating social and economic fallout.
Ramaphosa said the AU has taken very deliberate steps to respond to the pandemic, including developing a comprehensive strategy and establishing a Covid-19 Response Fund.
The union has also embarked on a fundraising drive to strengthen the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
“To date, we have raised a combined amount of $61m [R1.12bn] for the Response Fund and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The African Union has made a call for developing countries to be assisted in their efforts to combat the pandemic and to rebuild their economies,” he said.
He said this assistance needed to include debt relief, more special drawing rights (SDR) allocations with the international financial institutions, and the provision of comprehensive and robust stimulus packages to vulnerable countries.