Aspen to Make J&J’s Covid-19 Vaccine in South Africa

In what should be a positive move for Africa, Aspen offers to produce 300 million doses of J&J’s vaccine once approved.

With concerns emerging regarding how readily accessible any successful vaccine candidate would be to the less developed economies, Africa’s largest drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare agreed to produce Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine drug at a factory in South Africa. The move is seen as a positive step towards bringing the vaccine closer to the African continent, which many expected would be among the less fortunate continents that are likely to be the last to receive a vaccine as developed economies continue to lock-in supply agreements with pharmaceutical companies.

J&J’s vaccine candidate is currently undergoing trials. Once approved, the South African drugmaker’s Port Elizabeth plant would be able to produce 300 million doses a year. Not long ago, Aspen invested roughly R3 billion or USD$184 million in the plant to modernize and capacitate it to produce drugs for Parkinson’s disease, late-stage cancer, along with some auto-immune illnesses. Seeming to make the right moves, Aspen also made a deal to produce dexamethasone, the generic anti-inflammatory drug found to reduce death rates by a third in severely ill, hospitalised Covid-19 patients earlier in the year.