The South African government, through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF), has signed an agreement with the African Vaccination Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to donate 2 030 400 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, valued at R288.6 million, to African countries.
AVAT was formed following the establishment of the African Union’s COVID-19 African Vaccination Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) in November 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the then Chairperson of the AU.
In a joint statement issued on Friday, the South African government and AVAT said the main purpose of the task team is to secure the necessary vaccines and financing resources for achieving Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy, which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60% of the continent’s population.
The donation by the South African government will be produced at the Aspen manufacturing plant in Gqeberha, operated by Aspen Pharma.
The vaccine will be made available to African countries through the African Medical Suppliers Platform (AMSP) over the next year.
President Ramaphosa said:
“The donation embodies South Africa’s solidarity with our brothers and sisters on the continent, with whom we are united in fighting an unprecedented threat to public health and economic prosperity.
“The only way in which we can prevent COVID-19 transmission and protect economies and societies on our continent, is to successfully immunise a critical mass of the African population with safe and effective vaccines.”
International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, said while serving as Chair of the African Union, South Africa had initiated a coordinated African response that focused on addressing immediate challenges to public health systems, and mitigating the economic and humanitarian crisis arising from the pandemic.
This includes the establishment of a COVID-19 Response Fund and the launch of the African Medical Supplies Platform to ensure all countries have access to the necessary equipment and supplies.
African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa, said this generous donation from the people of South Africa would be distributed directly to the lowest income member States as quickly as possible. Masiyiwa said:
“As AVAT, we have already received and distributed over 100 million doses of donated vaccines, most of which came as a result of President Ramaphosa’s tireless efforts with the richest nations like the United States, EU and France.
“In addition, AVAT has entered into direct purchase of over 500 million doses, mostly produced in South Africa.”