Nairobi — The African Union has announced the start of monthly shipments of vaccines acquired by the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to the AU member states.

The AVAT had signed the historic agreement for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single shot Covid-19 Vaccine, with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.

The first monthly shipments will arrive in several member states, and shipments will continue for a total of 6.4 million doses shipped this month.

South African President who heads the African Union Cyril Ramaphosa noted that monthly shipments will be continually ramped up, with a target of delivering almost 50 million vaccines before the end of December.

By January, the number of vaccines being released will be in excess of 25 million per month, officials said.

In collaboration with the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), UNICEF said it was providing logistical and delivery services to the Member States.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was selected for this first pooled procurement for it’s easier and cheaper to administer, the vaccine has a long shelf-life and favourable storage conditions as well as since it’s as a single-shot vaccine,” said Ramaphosa.

The AU further stated that it is significant that these vaccine doses are being produced on the African continent at the Aspen Pharma-care facility in Gqeberha in South Africa.