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Johnson & Johnson strikes deal to deliver up to 400 million vaccines to African Union

Johnson & Johnson strikes deal to deliver up to 400 million vaccines to African Union
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Johnson & Johnson announced Monday that it has struck a deal with the African Union (AU) to provide up to 400 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the 55-nation bloc.

Johnson & Johnson declared that it made an agreement with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to get 220 million vaccine doses delivered to the union starting during the third quarter of 2021.

Under the deal, AVAT can order another 180 million doses through 2022, bringing the potential total to 400 million vaccine doses for the AU.

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“From the beginning of this pandemic, Johnson & Johnson has recognized that no one is safe until everyone is safe, and we have been committed to equitable, global access to new COVID-19 vaccines,” Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky said in a release. 

“Our support for the COVAX Facility, combined with supplementary agreements with countries and regions, will help accelerate global progress toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gorsky continued.

The agreement with Johnson & Johnson after months of negotiation follows an early deal announced in January to get 270 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, according to Reuters. The status of the union's talks with the other two vaccine creators is currently unknown.

The AU has been pushing to get vaccines for its member countries but has been struggling in comparison to other wealthier countries such as Israel, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. South Africa for instance has vaccinated 0.4 percent of its population, while the U.K. has inoculated half of its population.

The continent of Africa aims to vaccinate at least 60 percent of the population, at 750 million people, as COVID-19 continues to spread, including a more contagious variant that was first discovered in South Africa.

“The J&J agreement enables us to move towards achieving this target,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters.