Macron backs SA’s battle to have Africa manufacture COVID vaccines

French President Emmanuel Macron has thrown his weight behind South Africa’s battle at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a waiver that could see African countries manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.

Macron met with President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Friday, on his first visit to South Africa.

Speaking at a joint news conference, the two heads of state discussed the global COVID-19 response recovery plan.

Macron said Africa makes up about 20% of the world’s need for vaccines but only 1% of vaccine production.

He said France would invest in boosting the production of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, to help close a gap in the availability of the shots between the continent and western nations.

“This is our role to help all the different countries to accelerate vaccination. For solidarity reasons because we have to help each other, but second as well for pure a pure efficiency rationale, because there is no way to fix the situation if everybody is not vaccinated. We advocate that COVID vaccines must be global public goods.”

Macron has also pledged to donate more than 30 million vaccine doses by the end of the year to the United Nations-backed Covax.

Meanwhile, in the latest COVID-19 update, the department of health has reported 898,955 vaccines have been administered for people aged 60 and above as well as health care workers under phase 1 b and phase 2 of the national vaccine rollout programme.

According to the department, 479,768 people were vaccinated under the Sisonke programme, while 418,187 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered so far.

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