By Sola Ogundipe
AFRICA’S COVID-19 vaccination programme got a boost as pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, J&J, announced it will supply up to 400 million doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union.
The supplies will help Africa reach its target of vaccinating at least 60 percent of the population, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust Team, AVATT, has already signed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson for the delivery of the vaccine doses.
The agreement entails that 55 member states of the AU will take delivery, from the beginning of the third quarter of 2021, up to 200 million doses of the vaccine.
Additional 180 million doses will be made available in 2022, making it a combined total of up to 400 million doses of the vaccine.
Speaking on the development, Cyril Ramaphosa, South African president, who is the chairman of AVATT, said the agreement is historic and a significant milestone in the protection of the health of Africans.
“This agreement is a significant milestone in protecting the health of all Africans. It is also a powerful demonstration of African unity and of what we can achieve through a partnership between the state sector, the private sector, and international institutions that put people first,” Ramaphosa said.
Alex Gorsky, chairman/CEO, Johnson & Johnson, said: “Our support for the COVAX Facility, combined with supplementary agreements with countries and regions, will help accelerate global progress toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Professor Peter Piot, said: “I’m thrilled at this agreement between J&J and the African Union which is a game-changing moment in Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Combined with the 500 million doses supplied through COVAX for low and middle-income countries, this deal should ensure all African adults will receive a COVID19 vaccine.
“I hope this agreement is a catalyst for further action that ensures fair and equitable access to successful COVID-19 vaccines, one of the most urgent issues we face in this pandemic.”