J&J to supply African Union with 400 million Covid shots


Johnson & Johnson will supply the African Union (AU) with up to 400 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine beginning in the third quarter, the drugmaker said on Monday, as the continent grapples with vaccinating 60% of its people.
The virus has killed almost 121,000 people across Africa and infected 4.18 million.
J&J unit Janssen Pharmaceutical NV has entered into a deal with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to deliver 220 million doses of its single-dose shot.
The deal follows months of negotiations with the AU, which announced a provisional agreement in January to buy 270 million doses of vaccines from J&J, AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech.
J&J’s vaccine came to the market much later than those of AstraZeneca and Pfizer, but has recently gained widespread acceptance globally, especially in Africa.
“J&J requires just a single dose, it makes it a very good programmatically to rollout,” said Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention John Nkengasong.
“We need to immunise at least 60% of our population in order to get rid of the virus from our continent. The J&J agreement enables us to move towards achieving this target,” Nkengasong said.
Most of the supplies will be produced by Aspen Pharma in South Africa, AVAT said in a statement.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that South Africa will get 30 million vaccines from Aspen’s facility while a total roughly 250 million will be distributed across the continent from the facility.
Aspen has contracted with J&J to manufacture 300 million doses.
AU vaccine plan
As part of the AU vaccine plan, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has approved up to $2 billion in finance for countries to buy shots via the AU.
Europe approved J&J’s single dose vaccine earlier this month. The United States, Canada and Bahrain have also approved the shot.
Late last year, J&J said it and the GAVI vaccine alliance expected to enter into a deal that would provide up to 500 million doses of the vaccine to COVAX through 2022.

Edited by Olajumoke Adeleke

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