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Africa - Editor's Picks - April 9, 2021

COVID-19; Africa Drops AstraZeneca For Johnson & Johnson Over Supply Inconsistencies

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has dropped plans to buy vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, an official confirmed on Thursday.

Raji Tajudeen, head of Division of Public Health Institutes and Research, said that the health agency will get entire vaccines from Johnson & Johnson. “As Africa CDC we will be partnering with J&J,” he said.

But he added that the UN-led COVAX facility, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, would be providing vaccines produced by the institute.

He added that the AU’s decision had nothing to do with the possible link to blood clots in rare cases involving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which will still be supplied to Africa through the UN’s Covax scheme.

The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer in India is producing Oxford-AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for developing countries. The jab is locally known as Covishield.

On Feb. 15, the WHO listed the vaccine for both emergency use and distribution. The African Regulatory Taskforce subsequently endorsed the WHO listing, and the first shipments to Africa were initiated, with Ghana receiving the first consignment.

The Africa CDC plans to vaccinate 60% of the African population in 2021.

“Keep in mind that our target is to vaccinate up to 60% of our population. The COVAX mechanism will provide about 27% of the vaccines, so we have a gap right there, which the AVATT (African Vaccines Acquisition Task Team) mechanism will try to fill,” Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong had said earlier.

Many countries have suspended and subsequently resumed the use of the vaccine developed by the British-Swedish pharma due to possible links with cases of blood clots.

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