Up to 400 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine will be made available to African countries, the US pharmaceutical giant said Monday.
The availability of the single-shot vaccine will be subject to national regulatory approvals in the African Union’s 55 member states, with the first shipments expected to arrive in the third quarter of 2021.
“No one is safe until everyone is safe, and we have been committed to equitable, global access to new COVID-19 vaccines,” J&J’s CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement.
The company said Janssen Pharmaceutica, a J&J subsidiary, had entered into an agreement with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to initially make available up to 220 million doses of its vaccine.
AVAT can order an additional 180 million doses, for a combined total of up to 400 million doses through 2022.
J&J says its vaccine candidate protects against COVID-19 in broad geographical regions—including those with new variants of the disease.
In a global trial of almost 40,000 people, the J&J vaccine’s efficacy against severe disease was 85.4 percent, but it fell to 66.1 percent when including moderate forms of the disease.
But the vaccine has won praise for its single dosage and because it does not need to be frozen—unlike the shots from Moderna and Pfizer—making distribution much simpler.