The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) has announced the signing of an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV to supply 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine against Covid-19 for all 55 member states of the African Union (AU) by the end of 2022.
Some 35 million doses are to be delivered by the end of 2021, Xinhua news agency quoted the Unicef as saying in a statement on Thursday.
The agreement between Unicef and Janssen will help implement the Advance Purchase Commitment signed between the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Janssen in March 2021.
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, said the UN agency.
The AU established AVAT in November 2020 to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the African continent, with a goal of vaccinating 60 per cent of its population.
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 and the World Bank.
“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.
“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.