France to give 10 million Covid vaccine doses to Africa, says Macron

France will be providing 10 million doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines for Africa over the next three months, President Emmanuel Macron's office announced on Monday.

France to give 10 million Covid vaccine doses to Africa, says Macron
Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP

The jabs “will be allocated and distributed in the framework of the (African Union’s) African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Covax,” the partnership for equitable vaccine rollout, it said.

“The (Covid-19) pandemic can only be overcome through intense cooperation,” Macron said in a statement that emphasised “our solid partnership” with the AU.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa – who with Macron has strongly attacked unequal access to vaccines – hailed the announcement as a “strong and welcome gesture of human solidarity and political cooperation at a time when the world most needs it.”

AVAT is a means of enabling group purchases of vaccines by AU members to  help them meet at least 50 percent of their needs. Covax aims at helping countries meet the shortfall through donations.

The statement by Macron’s office said that enough jabs had now been purchased through AVAT to enable vaccination of 400 million people in Africa – a third of the continent’s population – by September 2022, at a cost of three billion dollars.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that the Republic of Congo had received more than 300,000 vaccines doses from the United States, its first under Covax.

The donation amounts to 302,400 jabs of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the agency’s African branch said on Twitter.

Congo, also called Congo-Brazzaville to differentiate it from its much bigger neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo, began vaccinations in April using the Chinese formula Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik.

But uptake of these vaccines has been very low, and vaccine hesitancy or suspicion are widespread. As of mid-August, less than two percent of Congo’s eligible population had been inoculated.

On August 15th, President Denis Sassou Nguesso issued an appeal for the public to get vaccinated, saying collective immunity was “the only path to safety” in the fight against the pandemic.

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.