AU begins distribution of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Africa

The African Union has announced the commencement of monthly distribution of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to various African countries.

In a statement issued on Thursday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the AU COVID-19 champion, said 6.4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will be delivered by the African Union to member states in the month of August.

The African Union in collaboration with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is targeting to deliver 50 million vaccines before December.

By January, the number of vaccines being released are expected to be in excess of 25 million per month.

“This is a momentous step forward in Africa’s efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of its people. By working together and by pooling resources, African countries have been able to secure millions of vaccine doses produced right here in Africa. This will provide impetus to the fight against COVID-19 across the continent and will lay the basis for Africa’s social and economic recovery,” said Ramaphosa.

AU Member States pooled resources and selected the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for joint procurement Johnson & Johnson vaccine was selected for for three reasons: as a single-shot vaccine, it is easier and cheaper to administer; the vaccine has a long shelf-life and favourable storage conditions and it is partly manufactured on the African continent, with fill-finish activities taking place in South Africa.

Mr Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy, said: “Delivering our first doses to African Union Member States is an unprecedented milestone. We are deploying relentless efforts to help each Member State to reach its goal of immunising 60 per cent of Africans, as recommended by the Africa CDC. Johnson & Johnson AVAT-purchased single-shot vaccines will enable us to considerably improve our vaccination level across the continent.”

“During the last months, we have seen the vaccination gap between Africa and other parts of the world widen, and a devastating third wave hit our continent. The deliveries starting now will help us get to the vaccination levels necessary to protect African lives and livelihoods,” added Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said:

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