WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) – The African Union (AU) intends to buy up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc in an arrangement brokered in part by the White House, which will defer delivery of some doses intended for the United States to facilitate the deal, officials told Reuters.
The AU’s doses will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of 2021, 35 million in the first quarter of next year and up to 60 million in the second quarter.
The Moderna purchase is the second time that the AU has agreed with a pharmaceutical company to buy COVID-19 vaccines. It reached a deal in March with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) for up to 400 million doses.
“I have sat in meetings with every single one of the suppliers,” he said.
The AU is paying the same price per dose as COVAX, a global scheme meant to ensure fair vaccine access, Masiyiwa said. In May, Moderna said it would sell COVAX vaccines at its “lowest tiered price” without disclosing further details. read more
The Moderna vaccines will bring the AU closer to its target of vaccinating 900 million people, or 70% of the continent.
Washington’s decision is what the AU has been asking wealthy nations to do for months, Masiyiwa said.
The United States, where more than 700,000 people have died from COVID-19, is flush with vaccines. The delayed Moderna deliveries will not hinder efforts to provide booster shots to already inoculated Americans, Quillian said.
Masiyiwa said the AU wanted to see more concrete details about Moderna’s manufacturing plans in Africa before deciding whether the AU would exercise its option to buy up to another 60 million doses in the second quarter of 2022.
“This is the first step in our long-term partnership with the African Union,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said in a statement, referring to a Memorandum of Understanding with the AU.
COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, has so far delivered about 128 million doses to African countries. It hopes to ramp up deliveries in the coming months as it expects supplies from India to gradually open up, the GAVI vaccine alliance CEO Seth Berkley told the virtual news conference.