By Mary Hearty

The Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation have announced the delivery of 15.2 million vaccines purchased under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative to help scale up COVID-19 vaccination efforts across Africa.

Through Saving Lives and Livelihoods, the Mastercard Foundation is committed to purchase vaccines for more than 65 million people. This is the first tranche of vaccines to be delivered under the initiative. The vaccines will be distributed within countries by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Vaccines purchased under Saving Lives and Livelihoods build on a historic agreement negotiated by the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) earlier this year for the purchase of 400 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well as a more recent agreement for the purchase of 50 million Moderna vaccines.

“Timely delivery of these vaccines underscores the effectiveness of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). Working with the Africa CDC and multiple organizations, the Mastercard Foundation will support the roll out of vaccinations to millions across the continent. More remains to be done to urgently increase vaccination rates. We call on governments, funders, civil society and others to step forward to save lives and livelihoods in Africa,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation.

“We are steadily picking up momentum in the continental vaccination effort. In September, the first tranche of AVAT-purchased vaccines began rolling out to 39 countries. Now we are announcing the delivery of vaccines purchased through the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative. And we are working hard on the ground to get jabs-in-arms, which is the ultimate measure of success” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC.

The Mastercard Foundation will fund the purchase of 57 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines and is seeking to purchase approximately 17 million Moderna vaccines.

“Through the AVAT, we have secured enough vaccines to vaccinate 450 million people by September 2022. In this regard, Africa has met its side of the bargain. So far, the Mastercard Foundation is the only foundation that has stepped up to support Africa in this work. They are covering AVAT’s entire November shipment—and we remain grateful for their support. We hope to see other foundations and corporations get behind the local and national delivery of vaccines,” said Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy.

The roll out of vaccines under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will be led by UNICEF, who are overseeing vaccine delivery for the overall AVAT effort.
“UNICEF is proud to continue our support to AVAT and Africa CDC to help vaccinate the millions of people in Africa who have been left behind,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “With our long history of procuring and delivering vaccines all around the world, we are committed to helping reduce vaccine inequity and keeping people safe.”

Launched in June 2021, Saving Lives and Livelihoods is now a $1.5 billion partnership that aims to enable vaccination for millions of people, develop a workforce for vaccine manufacturing, and strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity to oversee a historic vaccination campaign and effectively respond to future outbreaks.