The new agreement implements the Advance Purchase Commitment (APC) signed between the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Janssen earlier in March. The agreement secured an option to order another 180 million doses, bringing the maximum access up to a total of 400 million doses by the end of 2022
The UN children's agency-UNICEF has signed an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV
to supply up to 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine for all 55
Member States of the African Union (AU). Some 35 million
doses are to be delivered by the end of this year while the rest are expected before the end of 2022.
The new agreement implements the Advance Purchase Commitment (APC) signed between the
African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Janssen earlier in March. The agreement secured an option to order
another 180 million doses, bringing the maximum access up to a total of 400
million doses by the end of 2022.
The African Union established AVAT in November 2020 to
deliver COVID-19 vaccines to the African continent, with a goal of vaccinating
60 per cent of each AU country’s population. Under the plan, the African
Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and AVAT have signed a cooperation agreement
on behalf of the AU for the development of an Advance Procurement Commitment
(APC) Framework to support Member State access to COVID-19 vaccines.
UNICEF will procure and deliver COVID-19 vaccines on behalf
of the AVAT initiative together with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (Africa CDC) and the World Bank. While multiple vaccines are
anticipated to be part of the initiative’s portfolio, Janssen’s single-dose
vaccine is the first to be included.
“African countries must have affordable and equitable access
to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. Vaccine access has been unequal and
unfair, with less than 1 per cent of the population of the African continent
currently vaccinated against COVID-19. This cannot continue,” said UNICEF
Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“UNICEF, with its long history of delivering
vaccines all around the world is supporting global COVID-19 vaccinations
efforts through AVAT, COVAX, and other channels to maximize supply and access
Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine received a World Health Organisation
(WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL) on March 12th and its latest site
for production, Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa was approved by the WHO on June
Deliveries of the vaccine are expected to begin later in the
3rd quarter of 2021 with allocations to be determined by the Africa CDC. The agreement comes as the African continent faces the
steepest surge in COVID-19 cases yet, and vaccine supply challenges have left
many countries with large unvaccinated populations.
For instance, on Thursday, WHO reported that cases in Africa
have risen for seven consecutive weeks since the onset of the third wave in
early May. More than 251 000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on the continent
in a week, amounting to a 20% increase over the previous week and a 12% jump
from the January peak.