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Masiyiwa: Million people to get free Covid-19 drug


Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa says an African Union (AU) initiative set up to mobilise resources to fight Covid-19 is facilitating the free distribution of a drug to treat the disease.

Masiyiwa, who is part of the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), made the revelations while briefing AU chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on the initiative.

“I’m pleased to advise you that at our request, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed to joining our initiative to secure a drug to treat Covid-19 called dexamethasone, which is being used in hospitals in the US, and Europe on very sick patients following the results of the Recovery Trial,” Masiyiwa told Ramaphosa.

“The trial demonstrated significant reduction of mortality, saving lives that we couldn’t save without this intervention.

“About one million people will benefit from the drug [equivalent to nine million tablets], which will be distributed proportionately for free to all countries that are interested in its use.”

Cheikh Oumar Seydi, the Gates Foundation’s Africa director, told the South African president that they fully supported the initiative.

“The Gates Foundation gladly supports this initiative of the Africa Medical Supplies Platform to bring Covid-19 treatments to the African people,” Seydi said. “We have a shared belief that access to life-saving tools should not be dependent on ability to pay.”

The donations of both dexamethasone and test kits will be distributed for free to AU member states once they register on the AMSP platform, so as to confirm their allocation and arrange delivery.

“In addition to our efforts in securing the best drugs on the platform, we are preparing to become a critical player in how oxygen supplies, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines are accessible on the continent when they are globally available,” Masiyiwa added.

He said demand for medical supplies on the platform was high and included member states of the AU, leading international non-governmental organisations as well as international and African foundations.

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