U.S. to donate 17 million doses of Johnson Johnson vaccine to African Union

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U.S. to donate 17 million doses of Johnson Johnson vaccine to African Union

A nurse administers the coronavirus disease COVID - 19 vaccine to a man at the Bissil Health Centre within Sibissil settlement, Matapato North of Kajiado county, Kenya on August 23, 2021. .. WASHINGTON, Oct 14 Reuters - President Uhuru Kenyatta told Kenyan President Joe Biden Wednesday that the United States will make a one-time donation of more than 17 million doses of the Johnson Johnson vaccine to the African Union, the White House said.

The meeting with Kenyatta at the White House marked Biden's first African leader as president with an African leader. This month, Kenya holds the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council. The United States and Kenya have long cooperated in economic and security initiatives including counterterrorism.

Biden said the 17 million doses will be in addition to 50 million United States have already donated to the African Union. The donation of vaccine doses will help the African Union’s own regional procurement of J&J from African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, the White House said.

Kenyatta said the United States has done its best to step up in terms of not only helping Kenya, but the African continent as well. The African Union, which has 55 member states and a combined population of over 1.3 billion people, has accused vaccine makers of not giving its members fair access. Of 5.7 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines administered in Africa by mid September, only 2% had been administered in the world.

17 million doses of J&J are available to delivery immediately and will be delivered to the African Union in the coming weeks, the White House said.

African countries and the World Health Organization have been urging drugmakers for months to set up vaccine plants on the continent to help it secure supplies of COVID - 19 shots that have been hoovered up by wealthier nations.

As of last week, only about 4.5% of Africans had been fully vaccinated against COVID - 19 according to the continent's top public health official John Nkengasong.

Biden said the two countries are also discussing what the U.S. can do to help with security issues in the Horn of Africa and ways to fight climate change.