Lusaka, 6 September 2021 (ECA) - The government of Zambia has received its first shipment of the Johnson and Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine purchased through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) Facility. The 129,600 doses were handed over to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Kennedy Malama, at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the presence of the UN Resident Coordinator, African Union, CDC Africa, UNECA, WHO and UNICEF .
Mr. Malama said that the Johnson and Johnson vaccines will ensure that Zambians are fully vaccinated quickly, stating “It is a very proud moment for Zambians as we champion the fight against Corona virus by being part of the AVAT initiative.”
The delivery is part of the historic COVID-19 vaccine advance pooled procurement agreement signed on 28 March 2021 by AVAT for the purchase of 220 million doses of J&J vaccine, with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.
Mr. Malama expressed his gratitude to all AVAT partners - African Union Commission, Africa Centre for Disease Control Africa-CDC), Afreximbank, the World Bank, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) - for supporting Africa's fight against COVID-19. He also acknowledged ECA technical engagements in discussions with partners to address barriers of financing, deployment and administration of vaccines.
The AVAT procurement marks the first time African Union member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population. The 400 million vaccines planned to be acquired through AVAT are sufficient to immunize a third of the continent’s citizens.
Dr. Lul Riek, Africa CDC Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa who officially handed over the vaccines said AVAT’s goal is to ensure that Africa gets enough vaccines to reach, at least, the 60 per cent immunization target. He pointed out that Zambia is the fourth member State in the Southern Africa region to receive vaccines shipment supplied through the AVAT facility. During the month of August, Angola, Botswana and Lesotho also received their first AVAT vaccines consignments. Other consignments are also expected in Mozambique and Namibia during the week of 13 September which will boost the Southern African region’s vaccination drive.
“What makes AVAT unique is that it is an African initiative for Africans,” said Dr. Riek, adding “we see Africans stepping up to take their own health security into their hands and governments are putting their own taxpayers’ money on the table with support from Afreximbank and the World Bank.”
The United Nations family in Zambia was represented by the Resident Coordinator Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio who recognized ECA’s commitment in bringing AVAT partner organisations together. “This is an African-led initiative and another good example of United Nations support to Zambia in this health emergency.” As the United Nations, we pledge our continued support to the Government of Zambia, and particularly the Ministry of Health, to ensure a successful roll-out of these safe and life-saving vaccines,” she added.
Ms. Isatou Gaye, Chief, Sub-Regional Initiatives of the ECA Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA), representing Ms. Eunice Kamwendo, Director of the Office, in the name of Dr. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Commission briefed the media on the role of ECA in the delivery of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Zambia procured under the AVAT facility.
Ms. Gaye said AVAT enjoys the support of several development partners, seeking to bridge the vaccine divide and ensure that Africans have access to quality and affordable COVID-19 vaccines. “We laud the Zambian Government for its proactiveness in procuring the vaccines and would like to echo the Resident Coordinator in enjoining all Zambians to vaccinate to protect themselves, their loved ones and communities, and help stimulate a quick revival of the country’s economy.”
AVAT was established by the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, set up in November 2020 under the leadership of the then African Union Chair, H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa. The initiative constitutes an integral part of the Union’s COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy, which has a goal of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the African population with safe and efficacious vaccines against COVID-19.
The Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
P.O. Box 30647, Lusaka, Zambia.
Ms. Lavender Degre,
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