The African Union has started distributing single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to member states and the Caribbean nations.
AU Covid-19 Champion President Cyril Ramaphosa said that monthly shipments will kick off today with 6.4 million doses, with a target of delivering almost 50 million vaccines by December.
“By January, the number of vaccines being released will be in excess of 25 million per month. In collaboration with the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, UNICEF is providing logistical and delivery services to the member states,” he said.
On March 28, AU member states signed historic deal for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine.
Kenya is set to receive roughly 30 million Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccines with the first batch of 10 million doses expected this 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,” President Ramaphosa said.
“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.”
AU special envoy Strive Masiyiwa said delivering Africa’s first doses is an unprecedented milestone.
“We are deploying relentless efforts to help each member state to reach its goal of immunizing 60 per cent of Africans,” Mr Masiyiwa said.
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said “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.”
The agreement with vaccine maker Johnson & Johnson was made possible through a USD $2 billion loan from the African Export-Import Bank.
This vaccine acquisition and deployment is supported by an innovative partnership between the World Bank and the AU, African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to expedite access to vaccines throughout the continent.
Through this partnership, the World Bank is supporting the AVATT initiative with resources to allow countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa.