J&J vaccines from Gqeberha on their way to AU states, says Ramaphosa
The first monthly shipment of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines secured by the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust for AU member states will start arriving on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced.
“By working together and by pooling resources, African countries have been able to secure millions of vaccine doses produced right here in Africa,” Ramaphosa said in a statement, in his capacity as the AU’s Covid-19 Champion.
“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.”
Ramaphosa, who has been fighting for the equal access to vaccines, said this was a momentous step forward in Africa’s efforts to safeguard the health and wellbeing of its people.
The AU said the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust signed an agreement for the purchase of 220-million single doses of J&J vaccines on March 28, with the potential to order an additional 180-million doses.
“The first monthly shipments will arrive in several member states, and shipments will continue for a total of 6.4-million doses shipped in August.
“Monthly shipments will continue and be continually ramped up, with a target of delivering almost 50-million vaccines before the end of December.”
By January, more than 25-million vaccines will be released per month. Logistics and delivery services will be provided by Unicef and the African Medical Supplies Platform.
“The 400-million vaccines are sufficient to immunise a third of the African people and bring Africa halfway towards its continental goal of vaccinating at least 60% of the population. International donors have committed to deliver the remaining half of the doses required through the Covax initiative,” said the AU.
The doses are being produced at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in Gqeberha.
The director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr John Nkengasong, has repeatedly warned of a vaccination gap between Africa and other parts of the world.
“The deliveries starting now will help us get to the vaccination levels necessary to protect African lives and livelihoods,” he said.
The AU said the agreement with J&J was made possible through a $2bn facility provided by the African Export-Import Bank in partnership with the World Bank.