The European Union has agreed to return millions of doses of the Covid-19 vaccine made in South Africa, which will stop exporting outside the continent, an African Union special envoy said on Thursday.

South African company Aspen Pharmacare, which produces Johnson & Johnson's vaccine under a contract with the US pharmaceutical giant, will also stop sending doses to Europe, Strive Masiyiwa, head of the drug company, told reporters. African Fund for the Acquisition of Vaccines.

“All vaccines produced in Aspen will remain in Africa and will be distributed to Africa,” he said, adding that exports to Europe had been “suspended”.

"200 million doses before the end of December"

“This issue has been corrected in a very positive way” after a meeting in Berlin between South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“In addition, the Europeans have pledged to give us 200 million doses before the end of December,” said Mr. Masiyiwa.

This announcement comes as Africa struggles to vaccinate its population against Covid-19, in particular due to a lack of supply and the population's mistrust of vaccines.

According to the director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), John Nkengasong, the number of people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus on the continent is now around 2.93%.

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