Africa’s top public health agency (CDC) said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Pfizer for countries on the continent to receive shipments of the Paxlovid pill to treat COVID-19.
Data from a mid-stage study in late November showed the antiviral drug was nearly 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths compared with a placebo in adults at high risk of serious illness.
“We signed the memorandum of understanding with Pfizer and we can make this special treatment available to African countries,” said Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ouma said the MOU would allow African countries to access Paxlovid for a fee.
Africa CDC, a 55-member African Union agency, said in March that the letter of intent was ready but had not yet been approved by its legal department.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that deaths on the continent from COVID-19 are expected to drop by almost 94% in 2022 compared to the previous year.
By the end of May, Africa had reported more than 11.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 250,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the WHO Office for Africa.
As rich countries stocked up on doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, some African countries struggled to control the virus at the start of the pandemic.
While African countries struggled to secure COVID-19 vaccines at the start of the pandemic as rich countries hoarded the available doses, many are now well-supplied with vaccines but are struggling to get them in hand due to hesitation and logistics.