The Joe Biden administration has announced that the United States will be donating 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the African Union, thus bringing the total vaccine donation by America to the African continent to 67 million doses.

Recall that prior to this, the United States had donated 50 million doses to the African Union to be distributed amongst the 55 countries under to the AU, including some of the world’s poorest countries, according to Reuters.

The 17 million Johnson & Johnson doses are expected to be delivered to the African Union in the coming weeks, according to the White House in a statement on Thursday.

What they are saying

President of the United States, Joe Biden, during a meeting with Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, said, “We’re continuing our shared fight against COVID. The United States, we’ve donated 2.8 million doses of vaccine to Kenya as part of 50 million doses we’ve donated to the African Union. And I’m proud to announce that today, that we’re making additional, historic, one-time donation and 17 more million doses of the J&J vaccine to the AU.”

Kenyatta said the United States “has done its best to step up, in terms of not only helping Kenya, but with the African continent, in general, with regard to access to vaccines.”

The White House said it chose the one-dose vaccine for its unique advantages.

According to the White House, the one-dose vaccine was preferred for its unique advantages. It said, “(The) J&J vaccine is in high demand and short supply in Africa and elsewhere around the world. Single-dose administration, long shelf life and easy cold chain make this vaccine an asset to global vaccine programs.”

What you should know

The WHO disclosed on Thursday as well that assessment found that far more infections exist in Africa than what is reported, adding that six out of seven COVID-19 infections are not being detected in Africa.

The health organization estimates there are 59 million cases in Africa, far more than the reported number of cases, which stands at 8 million.

Sarah Swinehart, senior communications director for North America at the ONE Campaign commented on the vaccine inequities, stating that, “Speed matters as we fight this pandemic, and Africa urgently needs more doses to stem the overwhelming impacts of COVID-19. This donation is another example of U.S. leadership on the global response and is a step in the right direction in closing the vaccine access gap”.

As we continue to work towards the goal of getting 70% of the world vaccinated, all wealthy countries must be bolder and more ambitious. This will require more doses and more money to get those doses into arms,” she added.

The ONE Campaign is a group that advocates addressing extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.