South African pharmaceutical company Aspen Phamarcare has announced an agreement with American company Johnson & Johnson to package, sell and distribute COVID19 vaccines under its own brand name in Africa.
According to a statement by Aspen Pharmacare, discussions to execute this deal began in November 2021 and allow it to include any new versions of the drug’s composition as well as any different formulation of the for the administration as a booster. In a separate statement, Johnson & Johnson says that Aspen can now supply the vaccine -under the brand name Aspenovax- to all fifty-five African countries and multilateral entities that support Africa’s vaccination plan.
Although the company had previously shipped more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to Africa, only about 12% of Africans are fully vaccinated; far less than the recommended 70% coverage stipulated by the World Health Organization.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa said,” This important agreement on sharing know-how and technologies for the production of COVID-19 vaccines is a huge leap forward towards realising our shared vision for medicines and vaccines to be manufactured on the African soil for the African people. Vaccines are our best way out of this pandemic and local production is an essential recipe for our success.”
In Kenya, rival company Moderna recently announced its own agreement to build its first mRNA vaccine production facility on the African continent and looks to deliver half a billion doses of the vaccine annually.
The issue of vaccine production and distribution has been on the front burner in Africa as most countries have had to rely on donations from American and European countries and partners. This past January, Nigeria, DR Congo and twenty-eight other countries rejected over 100 million doses of the COVID19 vaccines distributed by the COVAX programmes due to their short shelf lives.
The Aspen deal with J&J is agreed to be in place until December 31 2026.
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