Africa is set for a huge boost in its COVID-19 vaccination drive after Johnson & Johnson pledged 400 million vaccine doses.
According to reports, J & J has signed an agreement with Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust Team (AVATT) for the doses. The doses will be for all 55 Africa Union member states.
Johnson & Johnson says it will supply up to 400m doses of its vaccine to the African Union's member states.
The jab is a single shot, which should simplify its rollout in comparison to the other current vaccines, which require a second dose.https://t.co/T9dl2RhueU pic.twitter.com/2F1RFfMDab
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) March 30, 2021
Third-quarter of 2021
The agreement will see the first batch of the single-shot vaccine arrive on the continent in the third quarter of 2021. The batch will contain 220 million doses.
Johnson & Johnson then said that AVATT could order the other 180 million doses through 2022, adding up to the 400 million.
J & J CEO Alex Gorsky confirmed the news in a statement on Monday.
“From the start of the pandemic, Johnson & Johnson has recognized that none of us is safe until everyone is safe. We have been committed to equitable, global access to the COVID-19 vaccines.” Gorsky said.
Accelerate push towards the end of pandemic
He added that they were working alongside the COVAX facility, in addition to the supplementary agreements with individual countries and regions. The collaboration, he said, would help in accelerating the push towards the end of the pandemic, which is entering its second year.
J & J has struck a deal with South Africa that will see most of Africa’s supplies produced by Aspen Pharma, a South African pharmaceutical plant.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa toured the Aspen Pharma facilities in Port Elizabeth to see the vaccine production’s preparation progress.
— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) March 29, 2021
44 countries have vaccines
Some 44 African countries have received the COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX and donations. Some of them have also been through bilateral agreements. However, the continent lags, with many of the vaccinated still being frontline workers.
Thus, the agreement between Johnson & Johnson and AVATT could be a game-changer to help the continent beat COVID-19.
So far, Africa has confirmed over 4.1 million COVID-19 cases, with recoveries topping 3.69 million. Deaths have risen sharply to 111,919. Lancet has stated that infections are now worse in this wave than the first two.