Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson, has entered into an agreement with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to make available up to 220 million doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine candidate to African Union’s 55 member states with delivery beginning in the third quarter of 2021. AVAT also has the potential to order an additional 180 million doses, for a combined total of up to 400 million doses through 2022. The availability of the vaccine candidate is subject to its successful approval or authorization by the national regulatory authorities of AU member states.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, Johnson & Johnson has recognized that no one is safe until everyone is safe, and we have been committed to equitable, global access to new COVID-19 vaccines,” said Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson. “Our support for the COVAX Facility, combined with supplementary agreements with countries and regions, will help accelerate global progress toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Johnson & Johnson is committed to ensuring equitable global access to its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine candidate on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use. In December 2020, the company entered into an agreement in principle with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) in support of the COVAX Facility, which is supporting the initial vaccination needs of 190 participating economies, including many countries in Africa. The company and Gavi expect to enter into an Advance Purchase Agreement (APA) that would provide up to 500 million doses of the company’s vaccine to COVAX through 2022.
Additionally, Johnson & Johnson recognizes the increasingly severe impact of COVID-19 in Africa, as well as the emergence and continued spread of a SARS-CoV-2 variant in the Republic of South Africa that demonstrates increased transmissibility.
Data from the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE study showed that the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was well tolerated and demonstrated a 67% reduction in symptomatic COVID-19 disease in participants who received the vaccine in comparison to participants given the placebo. The onset of protection was observed from day 14 and was maintained 28 days post-vaccination.
The data also demonstrated the vaccine was 85% effective in preventing severe disease across all regions studied and showed protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization and death across countries with different variants, beginning 28 days after vaccination. Variants observed in an ongoing analysis in the ENSEMBLE study included the B.1.351 variant which was identified in 95% of the COVID-19 cases in South Africa.
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