African Union drops plans to buy Covid-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India
Instead the AU is exploring purchasing jabs from US firm Johnson & Johnson, said the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The institute will still supply the AstraZeneca vaccine to Africa through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility that is being run by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The COVAX scheme is designed to get vaccine supplies to less wealthy countries. The WHO last month published a list of the first vaccine allocations under the project.
However the AU will seek additional supplies from Johnson & Johnson, John Nkengasong told reporters on Thursday.
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It comes just a day after European and British medicine regulators said they had found possible links between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and reports of very rare cases of brain blood clots.
However they reaffirmed the vaccine’s importance in protecting people and said the benefits of the inoculation far outweigh the risks.
Mr Nkengasong said the possible blood clot link had nothing to do with the AU’s decision.
The bloc of 55 member states shifted its efforts to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he said, citing the deal signed last week to secure up to 400 million doses beginning in the third quarter of this year.
“It was just a clear understanding of how not to duplicate efforts with the Serum Institute, so that we compliment each other rather than duplicate efforts,” he added.
Additional reporting by Reuters