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J&J vaccines from S/Africa dispatched to AU states – Ramaphosa

African countries on Saturday started receiving their first monthly shipment of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines from the African Union's…

African countries on Saturday started receiving their first monthly shipment of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines from the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) worth US$2 million.South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the African Export-Import Bank and the World Bank are paying for the vaccines through the AU facility.

The president said the AVAT signed an agreement for the purchase of 220-million single doses of J&J vaccines on 28 March this year, with the potential to order an additional 180-million doses.

Ramaphosa, who has been fighting for equal access to vaccines, said this was 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,” Ramaphosa said in his capacity as the AU’s Covid-19 Champion.

He added: “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.”

According to him, “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,” Ramaphosa said.

He said the targeted 400-million vaccines are sufficient to immunise a third of the people in Africa and bring the continent towards its continental goal of vaccinating at least 60% of the population.

In addition, “international donors have committed to deliver the remaining half of the doses required through the UN World Health Organisation’s COVAX initiative,” he said.

The doses are being produced at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in the town of Gqeberha here, and logistics and delivery services are being provided by UNICEF and the African Medical Supplies Platform, he added.

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