The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust Team (AVATT) has signed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson for 400 million doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

The agreement entails that 55 member states of the African Union will take delivery, beginning in the third quarter of 2021, of up to 200 million doses of the vaccine.

While additional 180 million doses will be made available in 2020, making it a combined total of up to 400 million doses of the vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson said Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa will support the vaccine shipments to the AU member states and also contribute to the global availability of the vaccine.
Speaking on the development, Cyril Ramaphosa, South African president, who is the chairman of AVATT, said the agreement is historic and a significant milestone in the protection of the health of Africans.

“This agreement is a significant milestone in protecting the health of all Africans. It is also a powerful demonstration of African unity and of what we can achieve through partnership between the state sector, the private sector and international institutions that puts people first,” Ramaphosa said.

Alex Gorsky, chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson & Johnson, said the company’s agreement with the COVAX facility will help accelerate global progress toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, Johnson & Johnson has recognized that no one is safe until everyone is safe, and we have been committed to equitable, global access to new COVID-19 vaccines,” Gorsky said.

“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.”

In November 2020, AVATT was launched to mobilise resources and ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine in Africa.

Since then, the team led by South African president through the World Health Organisation (WHO)-backed COVAX facility has made available doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to African countries.