The African Union will deliver six million jabs of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to 27 African countries next week.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) says these countries have already paid in full for the shipments.

“This demonstrates that African governments are willing to pay for their vaccines. They are willing to stand together and fight this disease,” Strive Masiyiwa, the AU’s special coronavirus envoy, told journalists.

Eighteen countries are yet to finalise their loan agreements with the World Bank for purchasing the vaccines.

Masiyiwa did not specify which countries would receive the doses.

The AU plans to vaccinate at least 60% of the continent’s population by 2022. This is equivalent to 400 million people. So far only 1.4% of the African population has been fully vaccinated.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccines were produced by the Aspen Pharmaceutical Company based in Durban, South Africa.

“We need production capacity now,” Masiyiwa added. “If we do not have production capacity, and this crisis comes back, we will be in the same position that we are in right now.”