Johnson & Johnson will supply up to 220 million doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine to African Union's 55 member states from the third quarter of 2021, the drugmaker said on Monday.
J&J, through its unit Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, entered into a deal with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), which could order an additional 180 million doses, for a combined total of up to 400 million doses through 2022.
"We need to immunize at least 60% of our population in order to get rid of the virus from our continent. The J&J agreement enables us to move towards achieving this target," said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Follow our LIVE blog for latest updates of the novel coronavirus pandemic
Earlier this month, Europe approved J&J single dose COVID-19 vaccine. The United States, Canada and Bahrain have also approved the shot.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Late last year, J&J said it and the GAVI vaccine alliance expected to enter into a deal that would provide up to 500 million doses of the company's vaccine to COVAX, the programme backed by the World Health Organization, through 2022.
Johnson & Johnson has established a global manufacturing and supply network for its COVID-19 vaccine, collaborating with nine partners across four continents, including Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa.
Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.