J & J to ship up to 400 million vaccines to Africa
Johnson & Johnson has reached an agreement to ship as many as 400 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to African Union (AU) member states.
The company has entered into a deal with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to make 220 million doses of its single-dose vaccine candidate available to the union’s 55 member states, starting in the third quarter of this year.
AVAT also has the option to order an additional 180 million doses, for a combined total of up to 400 million jabs by 2022. The availability of the vaccine is subject to its successful approval by the national regulatory authorities of AU members.
Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa has been established as a manufacturing and supply network for the J & J vaccine, and will support the supply of shipments to AU countries.
In December last year, J & J also entered into an agreement in principle with Gavi in order to support the COVAX Facility, which aims to support the initial vaccination efforts of 190 economies, including many African countries. It is expected that the pharmaceutical company will provide up to 500 million doses of their jab to COVAX by next year.
Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of J & J, said: “From the beginning of this pandemic, Johnson & Johnson has recognised that no one is safe until everyone is safe, and we have been committed to equitable, global access to new COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our support for the COVAX Facility, combined with supplementary agreements with countries and regions, will help accelerate global progress toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Phase III ENSEMBLE study showed the J & J jab to be 67% effective in reducing symptomatic COVID-19 disease in participants who received it versus those administered with a placebo.
The trial also demonstrated that the vaccine was 85% effective in preventing severe disease across all regions studied, and showed protection against COVID-19 related hospitalisation and death across countries with different variants, beginning 28 days after vaccination. The B.1.351 strain, which is present in 95% of COVID-19 cases in South Africa, was one of the variants observed.
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