A provisional 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been secured by the African Union for distribution across the continent.
According to the BBC, AU head and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised all of the doses will be used this year.
This is on top of 600 million doses already promised but is still not enough to vaccinate the whole region.
There are fears that poorer countries globally will wait far longer than richer nations to be inoculated.
Although infection numbers and death rates are comparatively lower across most of Africa, cases are spiking again in some areas, especially here in South Africa where a new variant of COVID-19 is causing particular alarm and makes up most of the new cases.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday at least 50 million of the doses will be available “for the crucial period of April to June 2021. He said the vaccines will be sourced from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson through an independent licensee the Serum Institute of India
These efforts by the AU are aimed at complementing the Covax facility, a World Health Organization initiative aimed at helping low income countries to secure access to vaccines on fair and equitable basis.
Ramaphosa said arrangement have been made with Afreximbank to support member states who want to access these vaccines based on a whole Africa approach. Upon receipt of firm orders from member states, Afreximbank will provide procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to manufactures on behalf of member states.
Upon delivery of these vaccines, member states may pay using their internal resources or access to instalments payments facility of up to 5 years provided by Afreximbank.
Ramaphosa said these were efforts to ensure that vaccine is available throughout Africa as soon as possible.