Cooperation and solidarity are the strategies adopted by Italy to support the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in Angola, with a donation, within the COVAX initiative and in collaboration with UNICEF, of 1,814,400 doses of the Janssen vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).
The shipment arrived on 14 December at Luanda International Airport. The Italian Chargé d’Affaires Gabriele Magnini, the National Director for Public Health Helga Freitas, the National Coordinator of the vaccination program Alda de Sousa and UNICEF representative in Angola Ivan Yerovi attended the handover ceremony at the airport.
“Today’s donation demonstrates once again the deep bonds of friendship and collaboration that exist between Italy and Angola” Magnini told the local press. “We are convinced that international cooperation and solidarity are crucial elements to overcome the pandemic emergency together and for this reason Italy wanted to send concrete help to Angola in contrast to COVID-19”.
The shipment from Italy is one of the largest received by the african country so far, and it will help immunize the Angolan population, reducing the risk of serious infections, especially at a time when coronavirus variants continue to be a risk factor for health and global stability.
Director Freitas expressed the gratitude of the government and in particular of the Minister of Health, Silvia Lutucuta, for what she called a “significant donation that will allow the vaccination campaign to proceed successfully in the most remote and difficult to access areas of the country“.
The donation to Angola is part of Italy’s program, announced by the Prime Minister Mario Draghi last September at the Global Covid-19 Summit, aimed at donating 45 million doses of vaccine by the end of the year.
Relations between Italy and Angola have always been excellent. As Ambassador Florencio da Conceicao de Almeida explained in an interview with Italian news agency Adkronos in 2017, Italy supported the Angolan independence movements and “was the first Western European country to recognize the independence of our country on February 18, 1976”.
In terms of economic relations, Angola is Italy’s third sub-Saharan trading partner, after South Africa and Nigeria. From 2010 to 2014 bilateral trade grew significantly, reaching a total value of €1.3 billion.
However, in 2014 bilateral trade started declining. The challenge now, once the pandemic will be over, is to “bring economic relations to the same level of excellence as political-diplomatic relations“.