By Abujah Racheal
The Africa Union (AU) on Monday has handed over the first shipment of 177,600 of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccines doses.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that to ensure widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines across Africa, the AU launched the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) in November 2020.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of Board of African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), while handing the vaccines to the Presidential Steering Committee(PSC), on Monday in Abuja, said “that the vaccine acquisition by AVAT was a unique milestone for the African continent.
NAN reports that the West African nation is one of the earliest to benefit from a supply deal agreed in March, 2021 to procure 220 million doses for the continent, with the potential to order another 180 million.
The single dose of COVID-19 vaccine made by J&J is highly effective in preventing severe illness and death from the Delta and Beta variants of the coronavirus, data from a clinical trial in South Africa suggest.
The J&J vaccines by the Janssen Pharmaceutical’s vaccine cost Nigeria 7.50 dollars against 10 dollars per dose and the country is procuring about 29,850,000 doses, through the AU, under AVAT.
According to Oramah, it marks the first time that AU Member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population.
He added that Afreximbank was pleased to have contributed in the historic procurement of vaccines by AVAT.
He noted that this was the first shipment of 177, 600 doses of the J&J single dose vaccines into Nigeria.
He said that Nigeria would be receiving the over two million vaccines doses in batches.
“In August a total of 1, 173 132 doses of J&J first batch of 176 000 doses and second batch 997 132 doses. Then deliveries will continue every month.
“Afreximbank is delighted to be a part of this successful breakthrough in Africa. This was also possible through our partners – Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), AVATT, Africa Centre for Disease Control & Prevention, and the AU for their invaluable contribution to achieving this milestone’’, he noted .
He said that the target was to deliver almost 50 million vaccines before the end of December, 2021.
“By January, 2022, the number of vaccines being released will be in excess of 25 million per month,” he explained.
The Chairman said that this would be in collaboration with the AMSP and UNICEF was providing logistical and delivery services to the Member States.
He added that the Shipment for a total of 6.4m doses began in August 2021 and they would arrive in several Member States.
Oramah said that International donors had committed to deliver the remaining half of the doses required through the COVAX initiative.
“It is significant that these vaccine doses are being produced on the African continent at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in Gqeberha in South Africa.
“The very low access to vaccines has exposed Africa to devastating third and fourth waves of COVID-19. Death rates are rising, and economies are becoming increasingly vulnerable. We are encouraged by the successful commencement of this vaccine roll-out, which will help contain the spread of the virus and protect lives and livelihood’’, he stressed.
Earlier, the Country Director of U.S. Centre for Disease Control, Nigeria, Dr Mary Boyd, said that the U.S. was supporting Countries worldwide to promote the COVID-19 vaccines.
“This donation of 4,000,080 doses of Madonna to Nigeria are a fulfillment of that promise, and a clear commitment from the U.S. government to lead the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
“In addition, since the onset of the pandemic in Nigeria, the U.S. has provided more than 73 million dollars in COVID-19 assistance from the deployment of personnel to support the response to the delivery of a mobile field hospital right here in Federal Medical Centre Jabi to additional, more than 200 ventilators, personal protective equipment and other COVID-19 control measures.
“To date, over 180,000 Nigerians have been reported to the infected with COVID-19, and nearly 2,500 have died.’’, explained.
She commended the ingenuity of the scientists and the commitment of the American people that allows them to be in a position to help others today by donating four million doses.
“We’re all thankful for colleagues from United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation for their partnership in ensuring the timely delivery of vaccine, ideas; want to congratulate Nigeria for Nigeria’s leadership in being ranked number four in the world in the overall COVID response.
“We also want to congratulate Nigeria for the arrival of 177,600 doses of J&J vaccines, by the AU,” she said.
The WHO county Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, said the milestone recognised committed government leadership at national and state level to have its citizens vaccinated against the disease.
The WHO representative noted that vaccines were a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19.
He called on everyone aged 18 years and above that was yet to take the COVID-19 vaccine, to come out and get vaccinated and by so doing, they would help to interrupt the community transmission of the disease.