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S.Africa’s Aspen goals to sharply enhance COVID-19 vaccine capability

  • Firm to have capability of 1.3 bln doses/yr by 2024
  • Producing 250 million COVID19 vaccines doses/yr
  • To ramp as much as 300 mln doses/yr by Dec, CEO says

GQEBERHA, South Africa, Oct 25 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare (APNJ.J) is aiming to ramp up its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing capability to 1.3 billion doses a yr by February 2024, up from a present annual output of round 250 million doses, the corporate’s CEO advised Reuters on Monday.

Aspen is doing the ultimate phases of producing for Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine below a so-called “fill and finish” deal, however CEO Stephen Saad stated in an interview that the businesses have been near saying a broader deal for Aspen to provide J&J’s COVID-19 shot below licence.

“We have got an absolute commitment to 700 million doses till February 2023 … within a year after that, we could get (to) 1.3 billion doses,” Saad stated on the sidelines of the opening of Aspen’s anaesthetic manufacturing facility at Gqeberha in japanese South Africa.

The firm is presently delivering 250 million doses of the ultimate packaged variations of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine on an annualised foundation and would attain a capability of 300 million doses per yr by November or December, Saad stated.

Under its contract with J&J it has to provide 31 million doses to South Africa. It may also provide as much as 400 million to the remainder of Africa through an settlement with the African Union. learn extra

However, its provides had been delayed attributable to a number of issues associated to export of the drug substance to fabricate the vaccine and a raft of approvals within the United States and South Africa. It started provides to South Africa on the finish of July.

Saad had stated final month that the corporate was in talks with J&J for a licensing association which might give it the proper to not solely worth the vaccine, however model it and resolve the place it’s offered.

“We have to get through a lot of technical details. But all (is) progressing well and we expect to respond shortly. It’s not going to be months and months away.”

The South African authorities had been criticised earlier by our bodies together with the World Health Organisation for manufacturing vaccines in Africa however permitting them to be exported to Europe, even because the continent lags on vaccination. learn extra

Saad hinted the growth of capability and the licensing talks with J&J have been to satisfy African demand.

“1.3 billion people live in the African continent so we wanted to say ‘One Africa, one vaccine’ and we want to have that capability,” Saad stated.

Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel, who inaugurated the anaesthetic facility, stated 100% of the vaccines produced at Aspen’s facility would go to Africa from September.

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by David Holmes

Stephen Saad, CEO of South African pharmaceutical major Aspen Pharmacare, takes off his mask during a news conference at the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine facility in Gqeberha, South Africa, October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

An Aspen Pharmacare logo is seen at outside company offices in Woodmead, Johannesburg, South Africa, September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

A worker at the South African pharmaceutical major Aspen Pharmacare looks on at its Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine facility in Gqeberha, South Africa, October 25, 2021. Picture taken through glass. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko