African Union response to COVID-19 at the 34th African Union (AU) Summit

The 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) was held virtually on Sixth and Seventh February, 2021 in the midst of COVID-19 concerns. African pioneers assembled in a virtual summit facilitated from Addis Ababa. The two-day African Union get-together centered on the continent’s pandemic response and security emergencies.

Despite early Armageddon forecasts, the continent has so far been less affected than other regions. As indicated by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 3.5 percent of worldwide infection cases and 4 percent of worldwide deaths have been reported. Numerous African nations are presently fighting the damages caused by the second waves of COVID-19 while stressing to acquire adequate immunization supplies.
Cyril Ramaphosa, Outgoing African Union Chairperson and President of the Republic of South Africa, has spent the previous year directing endeavours to speed up testing and deliver antibodies while struggling with 1.5 million diseases in his nation, i.e., around 40% of the continent’s aggregate.

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to remain a stern health crisis that has caused incredible affliction and difficulty across the African continent and worldwide. The African Union is resolved to assure benefit to all its member states and benefit from the continental endeavours to forestall and contain the pandemic, particularly with the inoculation program’s rollout. During the launch of its 34th Ordinary Session, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government resolved to fortify the collective response to the crisis, assembling resources to benefit all and determine to assure that no nation is excluded.

Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the members to observe a moment of silence for the survivors of the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of the hygienic crisis in March 2020. He appreciated the Union’s endeavors in tackling the severe monetary and social crisis caused due to the pandemic. He stated that “despite the upheaval caused by this disease, our response as a continent has been about partnership, resilience, innovation and the sharing of strategies and resources. The people of this continent have shown themselves to be resourceful and agile. Significantly, this pandemic has demonstrated the importance and the value of our continental body, the African Union. As we prepare for the massive task of vaccinating our populations against COVID-19, we are looking to the AU and its partners to provide the assistance and support we need.”

Concerning AU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the outgoing AU Chairperson President Ramaphosa introduced a report to the Assembly. It was the substantial agenda that got the most consideration during the summit discussions. Besides President Ramaphosa’s approach towards international financial institutions for conceding admittance to concessional finance and new special drawing rights with a predisposition to the developing world, the focal point was fundamentally on Africa’s admittance to the COVID-19 immunization. The continent, which has a tight way for access, will require 1.5 billion dosages of vaccines to inoculate 60% of its populace-the assessed least prerequisite for accomplishing ‘herd’ resistance.

Regarding ‘another analysis,’ aside from introducing the alternatives for financing the acquirement and delivery of the immunization dosages, a decision was taken at the summit which extended the scope of the AU approach on admittance to the COVID-19 vaccine to incorporate the ‘transitory waiver’ by the WTO of precise facets of protected intellectual property commitments concerning with the ‘prevention and treatment of COVID-19.’

Felix Tshisekedi, the incoming Chairperson and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, commended the inventiveness and strength shown by African nations in the battle against the pandemic and stated, “Let us organize together, with our international partners, for a great offensive against these various scourges. It is imperative that our organization can strengthen the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in order to respond effectively to emergencies and complex health challenges, as a specialized technical institution of the African Union.” The new Chairperson of the Union declared that he is pleased to make outgoing President Cyril Ramaphosa the Champion for the COVID-19 vaccine strategy and acquirement by the AU Member States.

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