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Mastercard Foundation donating $1.3B for pandemic response in Africa

Mastercard Foundation donating $1.3B for pandemic response in Africa
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The Mastercard Foundation is donating $1.3 billion to the pandemic response in Africa.

The funding, which will be deployed to the continent over the next three years, is meant to “save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent,” according to a press release from the foundation.

Specifically, the group said it will work to obtain vaccines for at least 50 million people, and support the delivery of inoculations across the continent.

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The foundation will also lay the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing in Africa with a focus on human capital development, and strengthen the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“Ensuring equitable access and delivery of vaccines across Africa is urgent. This initiative is about valuing all lives and accelerating the economic recovery of the continent,” President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation Reeta Roy said in a statement.

“In the process, this initiative will catalyze work opportunities in the health sector and beyond as part of our Young Africa Works strategy,” she added.

Mastercard Executive Chairman Ajay Banga said the foundation's investment is “the kind of effort that can change the trajectory of the pandemic.”

“It will enable millions of people across Africa to receive COVID-19 vaccines. By partnering with Africa CDC and others to solve for every hurdle – from the purchasing, delivery, and dissemination of vaccines, to strengthening institutions and creating jobs – the impact won’t just benefit the continent, it’ll benefit all of us,” Banga added in a statement.

To date, less than 2 percent of Africans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, the foundation noted.

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The donation from Mastercard Foundation comes as pressure is mounting on the Biden administration to do more to boost the global vaccine supply.

The White House last week announced plans to donate 25 million vaccine doses abroad, which health officials said was a down payment for the at least 80 million doses that will be sent by the end of the month, with more to come later in the summer.

Advocacy groups, however, are arguing that more needs to be done, since the 80 million doses is only enough to reach 1 percent of the world’s population.

-- Updated 3:51 p.m.