AFRICA – The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged governments to procure COVID-19 vaccines intended for Africa from South Africa’s pharmaceutical company Aspen since the market is key to developing vaccine manufacturing on the continent.

The announcement follows Aspen Pharmacare’s report that the lack of vaccine orders at its Qqeberha plant could threaten access to vaccines locally and on the rest of the continent.

Last November, Aspen entered into a COVID-19 vaccine licensing partnership deal with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to develop African vaccine-manufacturing capacity.

The pharmaceutical company’s mandate is to manufacture and distribute Africa’s first locally produced J&J’s COVID shot with the goal to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates across the continent.

It has the capacity to manufacture as many as 300 million doses of the J&J shot and plans to increase that over time to more than 700 million by January 2023.

Aspen has, however, recently reported a lack of orders coupled with unsustainability concerns in 2022 which could ultimately lead to the closure of the South African-based vaccine production facility.

Local vaccine production at Aspen seeks to challenge Africa’s dependence on imports of COVID-19 vaccine which left the continent vulnerable to repeated waves of the coronavirus.

Subsequently, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has called on those all those purchasing COVID-19 vaccines for the African continent to order from Aspen to prevent a situation where the facility closes.

Africa CDC confirmed that Aspen manufactures vaccines which are available to all African Union member states along with multilateral organizations supporting Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts such as the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust and the COVAX Facility.

Our message is that we need to have all those who are purchasing vaccines at the global level for African countries, they need to purchase those from African producers first,” asserted the Africa CDC Deputy Director Ahmed Ogwell Ouma.

He noted that the facility has advanced technologies and human resource for the “fill and finish” arrangement to produce 100 million vaccines by 2022-2023 but the market is the key to ensuring that Africa has a thriving local production along with manufacturing enterprise.

Meanwhile, Aspen was awarded at the 4th South African Investment Conference recognizing companies that best responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 environment for the company’s role in localizing efforts to manufacture vaccines.

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