Ololade Omosan Agie
The United Children Fund, UNICEF has signed an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV to supply up to 220 million doses of the J&J single-dose vaccine for Nigeria, and other 54 member States of the African Union (AU) by the end of 2022.
The UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement on Thursday, said that some 35 million doses are to be delivered by the end of this year.
According to her, the agreement between UNICEF and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV will help implement the Advance Purchase Commitment (APC) signed between the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Janssen in March of this year.
“That 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,” she explained.
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.
She said that UNICEF will procure and deliver COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the AVAT initiative.
Other partners include the Africa Centres 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.
She said, “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.
“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 to vaccines.”
Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine had received a WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) on 12 March and is relying on a global supply network to produce the vaccine.
“The latest site for production, Aspen Pharmacare in Gqeberha, South Africa, was approved by the WHO on 29 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.
“Vaccinating the world against COVID-19, as the virus continues to spread and mutate, is one of the largest and most complex collective health undertakings the world has ever seen, and we need all hands on deck,” said Fore.