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Africa needs $400 bn to overcome COVID-19 crisis, says Ramaphosa

Africa needs $400 bn to overcome COVID-19 crisis, says Ramaphosa

Satyendra Pathak
Doha
The African continent needs nearly $400 billion to overcome the crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic, President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
Speaking during the opening session of the Qatar Economic Forum Powered by Bloomberg that began on Monday via videoconference, Ramaphosa said that the spread of COVID-19 pandemic has curbed the African recovery. So the continent needs more support.
He said that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on African countries as growth rates declined significantly and the continent seemed to be entering a
recession.
The South African president explained that to overcome this crisis, countries and financial institutions must write off some debts from the countries of the continent, postpone the payment of some of them, and give African countries the necessary support and contribute to financing their infrastructure projects.
“The international support will bridge the gap related to providing recovery funds, overcoming challenges and acting constructively to improve lives of African citizens. Without this support the continent will remain marginalised and suffer,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that developed countries have a duty to help the change as the continent suffers from the COVID-19 repercussions, slowing growth and climate change.
Regarding South Africa suspending the use of two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine due to concerns about pollution in the factory in the United States and its impact on his country’s plan to recover from the virus, Ramaphosa said that the pollution problem of Johnson & Johnson vaccine negatively affected its distribution in his country and delayed the vaccination plan for citizens. Thus South Africa stumbled in launching its vaccination program at a time when it was swept by a third pandemic wave.
He pointed out that the company agreed to replace the suspected dose and the vaccination process would continue on its course.
On replacing this type of vaccine with another, the South African president stated that the country is sticking to this type due to its many benefits, as it is only one dose, unlike other types that include two doses, and this is better for the country’s economy, especially since there are many citizens in remote areas that are difficult to reach, so one dose will be easier to administer.
He added that it is logistically better for storage, as it is done at temperatures that are not very low as in other vaccines. Therefore, South Africa will not seek to reduce or replace the specified quota, which is 31 million doses.
He explained that South Africa still needs other doses that will be provided from Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac, but Johnson & Johnson will be the primary vaccine for South Africa as it is manufactured in the south of the country.
Regarding the high number of cases of infection in his country, the South African president explained that his country faced difficult situations, especially because it was one of the least African countries in the number of vaccinated people, and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority decided not to allow the use of vaccines produced using batches of unsuitable pharmaceutical materials, after noticing different mutations of the virus, and approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines.
He explained that his country returned to the vaccination track, where more than 150,000 people are vaccinated per day, and currently working to increase the number to 200,000 per day.
He called on major pharmaceutical companies and vaccine-producing countries to agree to manufacture vaccines locally and bypass the terms of intellectual property rights, to enable the world to manufacture and distribute the vaccine faster, thus save humanity from this pandemic.

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