US drug maker Johnson & Johnson announced its agreement to provide up to 400 million doses of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine to the African Union’s 55 member states.
Further, Johnson & Johnson, as announced earlier, expects to enter into an Advance Purchase Agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in support of the COVAX Facility, to provide up to 500 million doses of the vaccine to COVAX through 2022.
In December 2020, the company had entered into an agreement in principle with Gavi.
COVAX supports the initial vaccination needs of 190 participating economies, including many countries in Africa.
Johnson & Johnson expects to provide its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use.
Alex Gorsky, chairman and chief executive oficer of J&J said, “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.”
Under the latest deal with African Vaccine Acquisition Trust or AVAT, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, affiliated to Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of J&J, will make available up to 220 million doses of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine candidate to member states.
The delivery is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2021. AVAT has the potential to order an additional 180 million doses, for a combined total of up to 400 million doses through 2022. The availability of the vaccine in Africa is subject to its approval or authorization by the national regulatory authorities of AU member states.
In Africa, there is an increasingly severe impact of Covid-19 amid the emergence and continued spread of a SARS-CoV-2 variant in South Africa.
Johnson & Johnson said the data from the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE study showed that the vaccine candidate protects against Covid-19 related hospitalization and death in broad geographic regions, including those with variants of significant concern.
Variants observed in an ongoing analysis in the ENSEMBLE study included the B.1.351 variant which was identified in 95 per cent of the Covid-19 cases in South Africa.
Aspen Pharmacare, Johnson & Johnson’s manufacturing and supply network partner in South Africa, will support vaccine shipments to the AU member states and will also contribute to global availability of the vaccine.
The Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine was granted Emergency Use Authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration in late February, Conditional Marketing Authorization from the European Commission on March 11, and Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization, that gives access in up to 142 countries through the COVAX Facility, on March 12.