COVID-19: Africa CDC justifies the choice of J&J vaccine for the continent

NCDC Ihekweazu

 The Africa Center for Disease Control (AfricaCDC) has explained that the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine was chosen for the continent because ‘it is a single shot vaccine, with a long shelf-life and partly manufactured on the African continent’.

“First of all, as a single-shot vaccine, it is easier and cheaper to administer; second, the vaccine has a long shelf-life and favourable storage conditions. Last, but not least, the vaccine is partly manufactured on the African continent, with fill-finish activities taking place in South Africa”, according to Africa CDC Representative,  Dr Amadou Cheick Tidiane CISSÉ.

He told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday, in Abuja, that  the vaccines would help save African lives and livelihoods and enable them to resume their contributions to the continent’s development agenda, especially given the fact that it is a single dose vaccine as against the AstraZeneca vaccine that requires a double dose.

“This vaccine acquisition and deployment is supported by an innovative partnership between the World Bank and the African Union to expedite access to vaccines throughout the continent.

“Today we are proud to see the vaccines arriving. It is a sign of hope that we will finally be able to close the vaccination gap between Africa and other parts of the world,” he said.

NAN reports that the single dose Johnson &Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has been found to be highly effective in preventing severe illness and death from the Delta and Beta variants of the coronavirus, according to data from a clinical trial in South Africa.

Tidiane CISSÉ said that since the outbreak of the pandemic, which continues to devastate lives and livelihoods in Africa and globally, it had been clear that safe and efficacious vaccines were our only way out.

“His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, in his role as Chair of the African Union (AU) in 2020, made this clear in his strong appeal for global vaccine equity in the early days of the pandemic.

“In August 2020, the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government endorsed the COVID-19 African Vaccine Development and Access Strategy. Its goal is to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of the African population with safe and effective vaccines.

”This goal, developed under the leadership of the Africa CDC with over 3000 continental and global experts, was considered the minimum necessary to save African lives and livelihoods.

“To ensure that all member States could access and finance enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to reach this goal,  President Ramaphosa founded the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), coordinated by the AU COVID-19 Special Envoy, Mr Strive Masiyiwa.

”AVATT set up the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) which negotiated the current agreement with Johnson and Johnson and provided the financing mechanisms, through Afreximbank, to make the agreement possible and allow the member States to finance the vaccines,” he explained.

NAN recalled that on Thursday, Nigeria took delivery of 177,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, a tranche of the 29,850,000 doses that the Federal Government of Nigeria procured through the AU’s AVAT and the  facility provided by Afreximbank.

The balance of the vaccine will subsequently be delivered in monthly batches. (NAN)