By Adama Time
The Gambia’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday informed members of the media that the Government of the United States of America donated to the Gambia 151,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine to boost the national vaccination campaign which is currently underway.
With support from the COVAX Facility, the vaccines arrived in the country on Tuesday and were received at Banjul International Airport by officials of the Ministry of Health, other government officials and development partners.
The US contribution comes at a moment when COVID-19 cases are escalating rapidly in the Gambia as more than 925 positive cases have been confirmed between 23rd June and 16th July.
Since the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in March 2020, the Gambia has registered a total of 6, 920 cases and 190 deaths.
“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 Gambia government’s vaccination efforts led by the Ministry of Health. 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,” said Richard Carlton Paschall III, U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia.
Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF Country Representative said the contribution of shared vaccines from United States government will go a long way towards achieving vaccine equity in the Gambia especially now that new cases are rapidly rising.
Dr. Desta Tiruneh, WHO Country Representative said they welcome 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 COVID 19 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,” she added.
In receiving the contribution, the Minister of Health Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh said the Gambia is currently witnessing its third wave of the epidemic and therefore the donation could not have come at a better time.
The J&J 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.
Officials from the health ministry said the donation will significantly close the gap towards achieving the national target of vaccinating 60% of the population by June 2022.