Aspen gets billions to expand vaccine capacity to 500 million doses

The South African pharmaceutical company is set to expand its manufacturing capabilities to improve access to vaccines in Africa.

Aspen Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd. has begun producing hundreds of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the African countries. In order to speed up this process, the company is receiving huge financial support from the World Bank and a trio of western government agencies: the US International Development Finance Corp., or DFC, Germany's DEG and France's Proparco SA. The financing package of R10 billion for the pharma company is said to assist in securing enough vaccines for the African continent and will also enable the country to ramp up manufacturing capacity and produce more than 500 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of 2022. Of that amount, 30 million doses is expected to be produced for use in SA this year.

The announcement about the financing package came shortly after governments across Africa called on the international community to help boost the continent's vaccine supply chain to respond to Covid-19 and promote longer-term health sector resilience as sadly only less than 2% of the continent have been fully vaccinated. The financing will support Aspen in refinancing existing debt by strengthening the company's balance sheet, supporting its operations including production of vaccines, and other therapies in African and emerging markets. Aspen has recently built a fully certified sterile injectables facility at its existing site at Gqeberha, South Africa. The new facility is able to offer Johnson & Johnson filling, finishing and packaging capacity for its Covid-19 vaccine.