The African Union (AU) has launched a partnership aimed at leading the continent to self-sustenance in vaccine manufacturing.

The plan entails the setting up of five research centres, which will also serve as vaccine factories, with their establishment time frame set at 15 years.

According to John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the five centres will be distributed across East, West, North, South and Central Africa.

The ambitious plan will bring in the cooperation of the AU, The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Once operational, the centres are projected to produce about 60 percent of all types of vaccines used in Africa, compared to the meagre one percent that is currently being produced.

“The partnership with CEPI symbolises cooperation and collaboration to help respond to infectious disease threats and ensure Africa’s health security,” Nkengasong said.

“By building regional resilience and strengthening health security on the continent we can mitigate the disproportionate health and economic impacts that epidemic infectious diseases can have on populations,” CEPI CEO, Richard Hatchett, said on his part.

Chair of the AU, Felix Tshisekedi, expressed his optimism over the project, calling on all member states and diaspora friends to unite towards actualizing the plan, in terms of generating the requisite resources.

According to him, the centres will help Africa stay prepared to combat existing and future pandemics and epidemics.

The partnership launch comes at a time when the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, with Africa remaining the least affected continent.