Global Insider

Why the African Union isn’t waiting for COVAX

Episode Summary

The U.N.-backed COVAX vaccine facility was supposed to be a game changer. But with less than ten percent of Africans vaccinated — well short of the African Union’s goal of 60% by the end of this year— Strive Masiyiwa, the head of the Union’s vaccination effort, says the continent can no longer rely on donations and vaccines produced abroad to fight disease. Masiyiwa tells POLITICO’s Ryan Heath about his negotiations with the Indian government after he realized they would no longer be exporting vaccines to Africa — and why that moment convinced him the only thing left to do was to build out a vaccine infrastructure back home.

Episode Notes

The U.N.-backed COVAX vaccine facility was supposed to be a game changer. But with less than ten percent of Africans vaccinated — well short of the African Union’s goal of 60% by the end of this year— Strive Masiyiwa, the head of the Union’s vaccination effort, says the continent can no longer rely on donations and vaccines produced abroad to fight disease. Masiyiwa tells POLITICO’s Ryan Heath about his negotiations with the Indian government after he realized they would no longer be exporting vaccines to Africa — and why that moment convinced him the only thing left to do was to build out a vaccine infrastructure back home. 

POLITICO couldn’t confirm a figure mentioned by our guest in this episode — that there has been $32b distributed in stimulus funds across Africa during the coronavirus pandemic. Strive Masiyiwa’s team did not respond to request for comment in time for broadcast.

Strive Masiyiwa is the head of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and the founder and executive chairman of Econet. 

Ryan Heath is the host of the "Global Insider" podcast and authors the newsletter. 

Olivia Reingold produces “Global Insider.” 

Irene Noguchi  edits “Global Insider” and is the executive producer of POLITICO Audio.