Accra, – The Government has received more than one million additional doses (1,048,800) of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine under the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).

The last delivery, under the initiative for 2021, brings the total doses received by Ghana so far to 5,109,600.

The doses delivered by AVAT are single-shot vaccines and hence equivalent to 10m doses of other vaccine candidates.

AVAT vaccines have contributed to about 50 per cent of the doses that Ghana had set as its target for the year.

The vaccine deliveries are part of the historic COVID-19 vaccine advance procurement agreement signed on 28 March 2021 by AVAT for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.

In total, the 400 million vaccines acquired by AVAT are sufficient to immunise a third of the African population.

Commenting on the deliveries to Ghana, Mr Matthew Kyeremeh of the Health Commodities Group for COVID-19 Ministry of Health, said AVAT had given Ghana the hope that the country could meet the greater part, if not all, of its COVID-19 vaccines needs for the herd population.

“The fact that an all-African continental group has been formed to broker on behalf of the 53/54 African countries (plus some Caribbean countries) rather than each country having to do this on their own is a real breath of fresh air. The over 16.9 million doses of J & J Ghana is going to receive in the end through the AVAT facility will go a long way to give the needed expectation that our target population will also be vaccinated as expected,” he said.

He said while the AVAT initiative aimed to ensure a rapid imunisation of the African population against COVID-19, there is the need to build capacity in the individual countries to ensure that all of them can take full advantage of the initiative.

Perhaps the AVAT facility should include capacity building of health systems – delivery, storage, transportation and human resource – in as far as immunisation goes.

“Not all countries have the ability – receiving, storing, transporting and deploying – to access the initiative fully. Capacity building of health systems is crucial,” he said.

On the role of Afreximbank, Mr Kyeremeh said the bank’s ability to make available a $2bn facility for the African continent had alleviated the financial implications for a nationwide immunisation strategy for most, if not all of the African countries.

“As a development and multilateral bank to support trade, finance and development for African countries with these same countries as stakeholders make the offer unique and visionary, to say the least,” he added.

AVAT was established by the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, set up in November 2020 under the African Union chairmanship of President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa.

It is part of the African Union’s COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy, and its goal of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the African population with safe and efficacious vaccines against COVID-19.

The agreement with Johnson & Johnson was made possible through a US$2 billion facility provided by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), who are also the Financial and Transaction Advisers, Guarantors, Instalment Payment Advisers and Payment Agents, and the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) who coordinated the alignment of the AU Ministers of Finance on the financing arrangements.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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