The US Government has donated 151,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to The Gambia.

The vaccine shipment was received at the Banjul International Airport on Tuesday (July 20) by officials of the Ministry of Health. 

It’s part of the US Government commitment to the WHO-backed COVAX vaccine programme to mitigate the far reaching consequences of the unequal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

“President Joe Biden committed that the United States will be an ‘arsenal for vaccines’ and we are pleased to partner with the African Union, COVAX, WHO and UNICEF to support the Gambian government’s vaccination efforts led by the Ministry of Health,” said the US ambassador to The Gambia, Richard Carlton Paschall III. 

“This initial delivery from the U.S. contribution of over 304,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine – on top of $2 billion provided by the United States to COVAX in April to buy vaccines for the world – is only the beginning.

“We will continue to donate surplus vaccine supply, as it is available to us, and we will soon begin delivering on our contribution of 500 million Pfizer doses for distribution by COVAX to countries around the world, including The Gambia. Only by working together – and by getting vaccinated! – can we combat and end the COVID pandemic.”

The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization under the Emergency Use Listing (EUL) as well as by the Gambia Medicines Control Agency. 

Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF Representative, added: “this generous contribution of shared vaccines from the Government of the United States will go a long way towards achieving vaccine equity in The Gambia and will ensure that we can vaccinate a larger number of individuals in a shorter period of time, especially now that new cases are rapidly rising. Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do, getting vaccinated is the ethical thing to do.”

Dr Desta Tiruneh, WHO Representative, said “WHO welcomes the substantial contribution of vaccines from the Government of the United States through COVAX at a time when The Gambia is witnessing a significant spike in the number of COVID19 cases. 

“Global vaccine sharing is the only way we can vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by the end of September 2021.”

Minister of Health Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh said “The Gambia is currently witnessing its third wave of the epidemic and therefore this donation could not have come at a better time. 

“These vaccines will not only complement our national vaccination program but also strengthen overall preventive public health measures. On behalf of our government, I extend our sincere appreciation to the United States of America, through the U.S. Embassy in The Gambia, for its significant contribution of lifesaving vaccines to our people, as well as to our development partners – WHO, UNICEF, GAVI, CEPI and WB – for their continued technical and financial support towards the country’s COVID-19 response.”

The Ministry of Health said the donation will significantly close the gap towards achieving the national target of vaccinating 60 per cent of the population by June 2022. 

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