There is increasing pressure on African countries to purchase Covid-19 vaccines from Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa, the continent’s first manufacturer.
It comes after the business warned that it might have to discontinue producing Covid vaccinations.
Covax, the worldwide program that many African countries rely on for Covid vaccines, is now asking the plant to buy from it, according to the chairman of the continent’s largest public health authority, the Africa CDC.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa says he’s working with his counterparts in four African countries to attempt to save the manufacture of Aspen’s Covid vaccine.
Covax has not purchased a single vaccine made in Africa, according to Aspen’s senior executive.
While President Ramaphosa’s efforts to raise orders from other African countries are commendable, Stavros Nicolau told reporters that it is insufficient.
Aspen’s agreement to produce and market Aspenovax was viewed as a critical step toward improving fair access to Covid vaccinations.
The head of the Africa CDC says that choosing to buy from Africa “is a political decision”.
John Nkengansong argued that production on the continent is key to the world’s health security.
Covax has said that it is “committed to diversifying global supply, especially in Africa“. But it argues that lack of demand means it is not in a position to buy large quantities of vaccines.
The deal which allowed Aspen to produce and sell Aspenovax was seen as an important step in helping to improve equal access to Covid vaccines.
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.
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