FG Expects 70m Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine through AU •First consignment to arrive in July

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo with agency reports

The federal government is expecting about 70 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J &  COVID-19 vaccine this year through the African Union (AU), the Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has said.

AU and Johnson & Johnson on Sunday signed a historic COVID-19 vaccine procurement agreement for 400 million doses of the single-shot vaccine.

The vaccine procurement agreement was expected to allow all AU member-states, through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), set up last November 2020 under the chairmanship of South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, to have access to 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.

Shuaib told Reuters yesterday that Nigeria would receive the first batch of 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in July.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to get up to 70 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson this year. This is yet to be finalised but these are some of the advanced conversations that are going on between Nigeria and the African Union,” he said during an interview in Abuja.

Nigeria previously said it had applied for 41 million doses of vaccines through the AU, comprising Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson shots.

But Shuaib said the proportion of AstraZenca doses was likely to be reduced by the delays.

“Some of the allocations that we were supposed to get for the AstraZeneca will be replaced by the Johnson and Johnson,” he said, adding that this was yet to be finalised.

Shuaib said there was no evidence of adverse side effects in Nigeria and the AstraZeneca vaccine would continue to be used for eligible people aged 18 and above.

Shuaib stated that he expected the supplementary budget to be presented to lawmakers within the next two weeks.
The vaccines would be made available to African countries through the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), over a period of 18 months.

Under the AU agreement with Johnson & Johnson, Ramaphosa was expected to tour the facilities of Aspen Pharma in Port Elizabeth with Johnson & Johnson executives to inspect preparations for the production of the vaccine.

The production of the vaccine at the facility would be a massive boost for jobs in South Africa.

The transaction was made possible through the $2 billion facility approved by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which also acted as financial and transaction advisers, guarantors, installment payment advisers and payment agents.

“The successful conclusion of the agreement was made possible by the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), who supported the negotiation process with Johnson & Johnson. UNICEF is also acting as procurement and logistics agent.

“The AVATT was supported in terms of advice on various aspects by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” it added.