By Grace Audu (HEALTH CORRESPONDENT) –
Nigeria is to procure about 29,850,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ COVID-19 vaccine at the total cost of $233.875million.
The company is selling the vaccine to Nigeria at the unit cost of $7.50 as against $10 per dose, according to African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
The procurement of the vaccine was facilitated by the Cairo-based Afreximbank, a pan-African multilateral trade finance institution created in 1993 under the auspices of the African Development Bank.
Regional Chief Operating officer of the bank, Abdoulaye Kone, made this known in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja during the week.
Kone said Nigeria, which received the shipment of 177,600 doses on Thursday, was making the procurement through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).
Under the AU’s supply deal agreed in March this year, a total of 220 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine was to be procured for the continent in the first instance, with the possibility of ordering an additional 180 million doses.
According to data from a clinical trial in South Africa, J&J’s vaccine has been found to be very effective in preventing severe illness and death from the Delta and Beta variants of COVID-19.
The Afreximbank official further disclosed that having received the first shipment of 177, 600 doses of the J&J single dose vaccines, Nigeria would be receiving its over 2 million vaccines doses in batches.
Kone said: “In August a total of 1, 173 132 doses of J&J first batch of 176 000 doses and second batch 997 132 doses. Then deliveries will continue every month.
“Afreximbank is delighted to be a part of this successful breakthrough in Africa. This was also possible through our partners – Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), AVAT, Africa Center for Disease Control & Prevention, and the AU for their invaluable contribution to achieving this milestone.”
“The vaccines have been received in Cairo, Egypt, Lesotho, Angola, Mauritius, Ghana and now, Nigeria. The target is to deliver almost 50 million vaccines before the end of December, 2021.
“By January, 2022, the number of vaccines being released will be in excess of 25m per month,” he explained.
Kone said that this would be done in collaboration with the AMSP and UNICEF, who were providing logistics and delivery services to the member States.
“The vaccine acquisition is a unique milestone for the African continent. It is the first time Africa has undertaken a procurement of this magnitude involving all member States.
“It also marks the first time that AU member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population – 400m vaccines are sufficient to immunise a third of the African people and bring Africa halfway towards its continental goal of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the population.
“International donors have committed to deliver the remaining half of the doses required, through the COVAX initiative.
“It is significant that these vaccines are being produced on the African continent at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in Gqeberha, South Africa.
“This is part of the concerted effort by African countries to rally the world to support the TRIPS waiver for technology transfer and active pharmaceutical ingredients to develop our own manufacturing capabilities.
“The very low access to vaccines has exposed Africa to a devastating third and fourth waves of COVID-19. Death rates are rising and economies are becoming increasingly vulnerable.
”We are encouraged by the successful commencement of this vaccine roll-out, which will help contain the spread of the virus and protect lives and livelihood.
Kone quoted the President and Chairman of the Board of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, as saying: ”Afreximbank is pleased to have contributed in the historic procurement of vaccines by AVAT. We look forward to better days ahead for our people through this effort.”