Due to a lack of demand, the first African plant producing Covid vaccines says it may have to shut down production.
Aspen Pharmacare, which has been producing Johnson & Johnson vaccines in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, is now in danger of going out of business.
The shut down of the covid vaccine plant comes at a time when majority of Africa’s population is still unvaccinated.
Professor Tulio de Oliveira, director of South Africa’s Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation, told reporters that the closure might have an impact on the manufacture of other vaccines that “do not concern the developed world” as well as pandemic preparedness.
He said that “vaccine apartheid” has harmed Covid vaccination uptake in South Africa and across the continent.
He said; “What’s quite interesting last year is that first we hardly got vaccines… the vaccines were not coming to South Africa and Africa but when most of the other countries had vaccinated their populations we got the opposite, we got vaccine dumping.
“We got millions and millions of doses. some of them with very short expiry dates and that damaged.”
He says Africa, having gone through three major waves of Covid including a very severe one without the vaccines, had decreased the uptake.
Meanwhile, South Africa may be entering a fifth COVID wave sooner than expected, according to health officials and scientists, following a continuous increase in infections over the past 14 days, which appears to be driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants.
The country with the most coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent only recently completed a fourth wave, and a fifth wave is expected to begin in May or June, early in the southern hemisphere winter.
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