The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says it will deliver 220 million doses of COVID vaccine to all 55 member states of the African Union (AU) by the end of 2022.
In a statement on Thursday, the agency announced that it has signed an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV to supply up to 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) single-dose vaccine.
It aims to deliver about 35 million doses by the end of 2021.
“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 statement reads.
The statement revealed that UNICEF will procure and deliver COVID vaccines on behalf of the AVAT initiative. Other partners include the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the World Bank.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director, 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.”
While multiple vaccines are anticipated to be part of the initiative’s portfolio, Janssen’s single-dose vaccine is the first to be included.
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