J&J to Supply Up to 400 Million Vaccines to African Union

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Johnson & Johnson agreed to supply as many as 400 million Covid-19 vaccines to the African Union through the end of next year, delivering a boost to a continent trailing most of the world in the race to inoculate against the disease.

The U.S. drugmaker can make available as many as 220 million doses of its single-shot candidate to the AU’s 55 member states starting in the third quarter of 2021, according to a statement on Monday. A further 180 million could then be delivered the following year.

The pact follows previous AU agreements with AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer Inc. and the makers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe, and we have been committed to equitable, global access to new Covid-19 vaccines,” J&J Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky said in the statement.

While the J&J vaccine has started to receive approval in some countries around the world, the delivery commitment to the AU will depend on pending regulatory backing from member nations. The dose’s requirement for just a single shot is seen as beneficial for Africa, where vaccine distribution to more than 1 billion widely dispersed people is likely to present a brutal challenge.

J&J’s vaccine can also be distributed at regular fridge temperatures, as opposed to the super-cold requirements of the likes of Pfizer Inc.’s version.

South African has already started administering the J&J vaccine to health workers as part of a medical trial. The company agreed last year that Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. can manufacture doses in the country, with most of the vaccines made by Aspen this year going to AU member states.

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Aspen’s site in the country’s Eastern Cape province on Monday and said it’s been agreed that more than 30 million doses of the J&J vaccine will go to South Africans, with the first deliveries being made in April.

J&J in December signed a separate agreement to supply the global program known as Covax with as many as 500 million doses of its shot. The company said at the time that it expected to provide 100 million doses of its vaccine in 2021 as part of the initial accord with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, one of the partners in Covax.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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