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The White House says the United States will donate more than 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from its domestic supplies to the African Union.
President Biden made the announcement Thursday as he met with Kenyan Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House, Biden’s first one-on-one meeting with an African leader.
“We’re continuing our shared fight against COVID,” Biden said during the meeting.
The vaccine donation comes on top of the 50 million vaccines doses already donated by the United States to the African Union, according to the White House.
The 17 million J&J vaccines will be available for delivery immediately and will be delivered to the African Union within the coming weeks.
Kenyatta thanked Biden for assisting both Kenya and other African countries, saying that the U.S. has “stepped up” when it comes to vaccine donation and access to vaccines for other countries.
News of Kenya’s 17 million vaccine donation comes after the World Health Organization said last month the African continent was almost 500 million doses short of what is needed to achieve its goal of vaccinating 40% of people by the end of 2021.
“African countries need clear delivery dates so they can plan properly. We also need strong structures set up to ensure that all promises made are promises kept,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa in a statement addressing the shortage.
To date, under half of the African countries that have received COVID-19 vaccines have fully vaccinated only 2% or less of their populations, according to the WHO.