African Vaccine Acquisition Trust delivers 12,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union

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The African Union (AU), through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), has worked with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to secure 12,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine for staff members of the African Union Commission (AUC), AU Embassies in Addis Ababa and their dependents. The vaccines were handed over to the African Union’s Medical Health Services Directorate (MHSD) today. They arrived on the 1st of September.

The vaccines, partly manufactured in South Africa, were imported with the support of the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Being able to offer vaccines to all AUC and AU Embassy staff and their dependents is also an important step in securing the AU’s business continuity.

The AU MHSD is responsible for administering the vaccines to the AUC and African Union Embassy staff and dependents. Vaccination for AU staff members started immediately after the handover, following prior communication on the procedures and logistics by MHSD.

African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson, Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, who presided over the event on behalf of H.E Mousa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, noted that, to date, only 25.5% of the AU Commission and the community of the AU member states based in Addis Ababa are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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“This figure is far below where we need to be, in order to be near normalcy and return to work. It is therefore pertinent that all staff and supervisors should encourage colleagues to get vaccinated as this is the only way for us to return to our previous working environment”, she said. Dr Nsanzabaganwa concluded by underlining the close collaboration between the African Union Commission and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the delivery and clearance of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine for use by the AU Commission.

The Acting Director for AU Medical and Health Services, Dr. Naftal Kilenga said that as of today 1,500 individuals have been vaccinated from the AU and diplomatic community in Addis Ababa. He recalled that the AU Commission also recently received a donation of 15,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from the People’s Republic of China.

“Today, we are lucky to receive 12,000 doses of J and J from the Africa CDC, thus creating a wide choice of vaccines to the community we serve. Our community has no reason not to vaccinate. Over time, we will overcome this pandemic and go back to our normal working environment. Breaking the transmission chain of COVID-19 virus starts with you”, said Dr Kilenga.

The Africa CDC Director Dr John Nkengasong welcomed the arrival of the vaccines: “Only high vaccination levels will allow us to return to work and near normalcy. We are glad to be able to offer the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, with its track record of safety and efficacy, to the Commission and Embassy staff and their dependents”.

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Commenting on this achievement, the AU Special Envoy and AVAT coordinator Mr Strive Masiyiwa said: “We are pleased that we have been able to secure these vaccines which were paid for through donors through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust”. Mr Masiyiwa also confirmed that Ethiopia had placed a large order of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines for its citizens through the AVAT.

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