The African Union (AU) has handed over 244,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine from the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) initiative to the government of Ghana for the covid-19 vaccination programme in the country on September 2, 2021.
The vaccine doses are being produced on the African continent at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in Gqeberha in South Africa.
The African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) is an initiative by the AU member states to pool their financial resources to collectively purchase vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population. As such, AVAT acts as a centralised purchasing agent on behalf of the African Union member states, to secure the necessary vaccines and blended financial resources for achieving Africa’s covid-19 vaccination strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of sixty (60) per cent of Africa’s population based on a whole-of-Africa approach.
The AVAT, on March 28, 2021, signed an agreement for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson single-shot covid-19 vaccine, with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.
The AVAT on August 5, 2021, started the first monthly shipment of the vaccines to several member states. A total of 6.4million doses of the vaccine is expected to be shipped in August. About a 50million vaccines will be delivered to member states before the end of December this year. The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) in collaboration with UNICEF is providing logistical and delivery services to the member states.
Ghana is among the first ten African countries to receive vaccines through this partnership. World Bank financing has been mobilized to support both the acquisition and equitable deployment of vaccines. Under the additional credit of 200 million dollars for the Ghana covid-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project, the World Bank is contributing towards financing a total of 16.9 million vaccine doses through AVAT.
In addition, the project is helping to strengthen vaccine deployment so that doses translate into effective and equitable vaccinations. This includes support to logistics and cold chain, needed supplies to carry out vaccination, training vaccination teams, and demand generation activities.