South Africa will donate over two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines worth R288.6 million to other African countries.
This comes after South Africa, through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF), signed an agreement with the African Vaccination Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to make the donation.
AVAT was formed following the establishment of the African Union’s (AU) COVID-19 African Vaccination Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) in November 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa as the then chairperson of the AU.
The main purpose of the Task Team was 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.
In a joint statement by the South African government and AVAT, they said that the donation by South Africa would be produced at the Aspen Pharma pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Gqeberha, with the vaccine expected to be made available to African countries through the African Medical Suppliers Platform (AMSP), over the next year.
Ramaphosa said that the donation embodies South Africa’s solidarity with “our brothers and sisters on the continent with” whom South Africa was 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,” Ramaphosa said.
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr Naledi Pandor said that 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.
Pandor said that this included establishing a Covid-19 Response Fund and launching the African Medical Supplies Platform to ensure all countries had access to the necessary equipment and supplies.
Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy, said: “This generous donation from the people of South Africa would be distributed directly to the lowest income member states, as quickly as possible”.
“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,” Masiyiwa said.