TORONTO — The Mastercard Foundation says it will spend $1.3 billion over the next three years to acquire and deliver COVID-19 vaccines for more than 50 million people in Africa.
The first-of-its-kind initiative from the Mastercard Foundation is aiming to bolster Africa’s lagging vaccination campaign amid widespread fears of a third wave of infections on the continent.
The foundation will purchase single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the discounted rate negotiated by the African Union during its 220 million dose deal with the vaccine manufacturer. A spokeswoman says the doses will become available in August.
The announcement Tuesday from the Toronto-based Mastercard Foundation, which has more than $39 billion in assets, comes days after the World Health Organization said Africa was encountering an alarming mix of a spike in virus cases and “a near halt” of vaccine shipments. The delays have been tied to India’s halt on vaccine exports, among other things.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is partnering with the foundation and will consult African government agencies and other institutions on how to best deploy the shots among the 55 African Union nations.