The African Union (AU) has secured 400 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for the continent bringing the total vaccine for Africa to 1.27 billion if added to the 8.7 million doses to be made available through the World Health Organization-backed Covax vaccine scheme.
Africa needs about 1.5 billion doses to immunise 60% of inhabitants, the threshold for herd immunity.
Most Africa nations have not started vaccinating as wealthier countries are bulk-buying vaccines.
The rollout of mass vaccination programmes across Africa may not begin until March, though not all supplies will be available by then.
According to John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention the bulk would arrive later this year and next year.
The latest AU acquired 400 million doses are of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India purchased at an undisclosed amount.
Some African countries including South Africa, Morocco, Seychelles, Mauritius and Egypt are also doing direct deals with vaccine manufacturers or have received separate vaccine donations.
South Africa’s leading coronavirus expert Salim Abdool Karim last week said wealthier countries bulk-buying of vaccines was “unconscionable”, warning “no-one is safe until everyone is safe”.