If Johnson & Johnson and the Covax Covid-19 vaccine-sharing initiative meet their commitments then Africa and Caribbean nations could meet a target of inoculating about 800 million people, the head of the African Union’s vaccine-acquisition drive said.
Caricom, a grouping of 15 Caribbean nations, has been given access to the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which was set up by the African Union to buy Covid-19 inoculations.
Covax has pledged to deliver doses to Africa, made up up of a mix of single- and double-shot regimes, and the African Union has agreed to buy single-shot vaccines from J&J that will be made under licence by Aspen in South Africa and delivered over the next year.
“If the J&J shipments of 400 million are met, and the Covax make good on their 700 million doses, then we are at the 60% target,” African Union Special Envoy on Covid-19, Strive Masiyiwa, said a response to queries on Tuesday.
Africa is the least vaccinated continent, with just 1.1% of its 1.2 billion people fully vaccinated compared with about half the population of the US and the UK. The continent has struggled to procure vaccines and deliveries from Covax have fallen short of projections after India halted exports.
Covax has to date delivered 95 million doses to 134 countries.
Some African nations have used donations or procured vaccines from China and Russia and an initial donation of 15 million doses from the US is ready for distribution.
Masiyiwa is a Zimbabwean telecommunications billionaire and philanthropist.