President Kagame assures Rwanda’s readiness to contribute to manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa

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President Paul Kagame has said that Rwanda is ready to contribute to the program aimed at increasing investments in domestic health systems that could capacitate African continent to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.

The President reiterated the commitment yesterday as he participated in the meeting bringing together heads of state and Governments, as well as heads of different institutions and international organizations assessing how Arica can manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.

The meeting held virtually was organized by African Union (AU) in collaboration with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

In line with the agenda of increasing domestic health financing, Kagame highlighted that it is important for Africa to forge strategic public-private partnerships for vaccine manufacturing on our continent.

“Vaccine production goes hand in hand with increased investments in domestic health systems, as well as building an efficient and autonomous Africa CDC, which I think is the way we are headed. Rwanda is ready to play a role in this effort, together with other member states and partners,” he said.

Kagame further stressed that Africa needs to expand production capacity for vaccines and other essential medical products.

He said that he contacted and discussed with manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines who insisted that Africa can make it.

“In the past few weeks and months, I had the opportunity to initiate contacts with different manufacturers of vaccines, specifically focusing on the Messenger RNA (mRNA) technique used by Moderna and Pfizer. We have been involved in discussions and I have briefed a few colleagues on our continent, but we want to take this forward by discussing it with others,” he said.

“There is a company that is capable of this technique, just as Moderna and Pfizer have been doing, that is ready and willing. I will brief those responsible very soon. I am sorry that I have not done that before we had this discussion,” added Kagame.

The President stated that Africa can apply techniques of these manufacturers complementing with other ways like the adenovirus method, in the vaccines used by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

“And therefore, for Africa to move from being very sorry for ourselves, which is the case today — and I think no one single person takes the blame for that — but we have to take the blame for that, and move from what we know has not worked well for Africa to something we can do, using the examples President Ramaphosa mentioned, by partnering with these industries,” he noted.

“The African Continental Free Trade Area makes these investments even more attractive. The Africa Medicines Agency Treaty is a critical part of the institutional framework, and I urge African member states to ratify this, as many as we can have ratify, as soon as possible,” he added.

The meeting was also attended by President of DRC Felix Tshisekedi who is the current Chairperson of AU and his counterpart of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.

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