President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that France would invest in restarting production of Covid-19 vaccines in Africa, to help close a gap in vaccine availability between African and Western countries.
Speaking at a joint press conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria, Macron said Africa accounts for around 20% of global vaccine needs, but only 1% of vaccine production.
“How to stimulate vaccine production on the African continent?” he said. “With that, this afternoon we will have an investment strategy to help these manufacturers to produce more, and fairly quickly.
He said France already has a partnership with South Africa’s Biovac Institute and will soon launch a project with South African pharmaceutical company Aspen.
“We need to vaccinate as quickly as possible as many people as possible … all over the world,” Macron said. “It is our moral duty; it is also in everyone’s interest.
Macron is on the second and final leg of an African trip that included Rwanda.
He reiterated his support for waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, an initiative also supported by US President Joe Biden but opposed by Germany.
Ramaphosa said earlier this month that if rich countries block Covid-19 injections while millions of people in poor countries die while waiting for them, it would be tantamount to vaccinating apartheid.
He also said that rich countries with a surplus of vaccines should not store them but ship them as quickly as possible to countries in need.
France plans to deliver 30 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to Africa by the end of the year, part of a total of more than 100 million doses that the European Union plans to deliver to Africa. Africa this year.