To boost the vaccination drive in Africa, South Africa says it would donate 2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to other African countries.
The vaccine doses said to be worth approximately $18 million will be produced at the Aspen Pharmacare manufacturing facility in Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth, and be distributed to various African countries over the next year, according to a statement issued on Friday.
South Africa’s donation will add to the more than 100 million vaccine doses that have been donated to the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust. The African vaccination group has also purchased 500 million doses to be distributed to countries across the continent.
Africa remains the world’s least vaccinated continent. The World Health Organization (WHO) says Africa might not reach the target of vaccinating 70 percent of its 1.3 billion population until the second half of 2024.
Just 20 of Africa’s 54 countries have fully vaccinated at least 10 percent of their populations against COVID-19. Ten African countries have less than two percent of their populations fully vaccinated, according to WHO.
South Africa is currently battling a resurgence of the coronavirus fuelled by the Omicron variant.
“This 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,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in the statement.
“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,” added Ramaphosa.