Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) announced today that it has entered into an agreement with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to make 220 million COVID-19 vaccine doses available to the 55 African Union member countries.
AVAT also has the potential to order an additional 180 million doses to bring the total to 440 million through 2022. J&J’s move comes as experts increasingly warn that the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine must be truly global — and not too focused on wealthy countries. Otherwise, the pandemic could stretch on for years as new virus variants increasingly crop up in poorer countries.
J&J is also supporting COVAX, a global initiative to provide vaccine doses to developing countries.
“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,” J&J CEO Alex Gorsky said in a news release. “Our support for the COVAX Facility, combined with supplementary agreements with countries and regions, will help accelerate global progress toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa will help support vaccine shipments to African Union member states and will also contribute to worldwide vaccine availability.