THISDAY

UNICEF to Deliver 220m COVID-19Vaccine Doses in Africa

- Michael Olugbode in Abuja

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has signed an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceut­ica NV to supply up to 220 million doses of the Johnson&Johnson single-dose vaccine for all 55 member states of the African Union (AU)

The delivery which is planned for the end of 2022, will get some 35 million doses to the African countries.

According to the UN agency yesterday, 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.

The statement revealed that the 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 African Union establishe­d AVAT in November 2020 to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to the African continent, with a goal of vaccinatin­g 60 per cent of each AU country’s population. Under the plan, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximban­k) and AVAT have signed a cooperatio­n agreement on behalf of the AU for the developmen­t of an Advance Procuremen­t Commitment (APC) Framework to support member state access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The statement revealed that 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 (Africa CDC) and the World Bank.

The statement disclosed that while multiple vaccines were anticipate­d to be part of the initiative’s portfolio, Janssen’s single-dose vaccine is the first to be included.

The statement quoted UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore to have 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 one per cent of the population of the African continent currently vaccinated against COVID-19. This cannot continue.”

She added that: “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 maximise supply and access to vaccines.”

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