The Mastercard Foundation’s Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative is committing to a $1.3 billion partnership with the Africa Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC) to address the pressing needs of COVID-19 on the continent of Africa. As many countries in the West start to reach over 50 percent of their populations receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, Africa lags. In fact, the continent reached an all-time high of 43,000 daily new infections in late July and only 3.7% of the population have received at least one COVID vaccine dose. The large disparity in vaccination rates is alarming, as Africa remains extremely vulnerable to the devastating effects of the virus.
The Africa CDC was established in 2017 after the Ebola outbreak to support the public health initiatives of African Union member states. The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will work with the Africa CDC to address each of Africa’s roadblocks of vaccine procurement, delivery, and manufacturing, by laying the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing in Africa, acquiring vaccines for at least 50 million people, and supporting the delivery of vaccinations to millions.
This important partnership with Mastercard builds on the efforts of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) and the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) and will also be focused on human capital development to support vaccination efforts.
Addressing the rising COVID cases in Africa is not only important for the well-being of Africans, but also Americans. New variants can quickly move from one region of the globe to another, as seen with the more contagious Delta variant. Originating in India, the Delta variant spread rapidly among the unvaccinated population of the country. Soon, the new COVID variant became the dominant variant in the UK, causing an increase in hospitalization rates, and now the U.S., where COVID cases and hospitalizations are soaring again for the unvaccinated. This demonstrates the importance of effective global vaccination campaigns that address vaccination infrastructure, as new strains of the coronavirus can develop elsewhere and quickly spread home.
The Delta variant is testing all of Africa’s vaccine infrastructure, primarily the problems of vaccine procurement and delivery. Self-sufficiency in vaccine production remains a far-reaching goal in Africa. Moreover, tens of thousands of vaccines in the continent have been destroyed due to expiration, highlighting the problems with vaccine distribution in the continent. Many of the countries, such as Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, face problems with adequate preparation, financial resources, and health services needed to have a sufficient vaccine delivery program.
To address these faults, partnerships by governments with nongovernmental organizations and the private sector work to deliver disease response efforts. Each partner provides the resources needed to complement and support different essential parts of the vaccination campaign to bolster COVID response efforts.
In these pressing times, foundations such as the Mastercard Foundation continue to provide critical assistance that helps the vaccination efforts in Africa. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the continent the hardest, as its countries are still facing numerous structural problems with vaccination. The swift spread of the Delta variant exemplifies the importance of continued international investments in an increasingly interconnected world, as not only do the investments improve the well beings of others abroad, but it protects the well-being of us at home.