'Significant landmark' for SA and Africa - Aspen's Gqeberha plant to release J&J vaccines on Monday

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Aspen's manufacturing plant in Gqeberha, where the first Johnson & Johnson doses of the Covid-19 vaccines are being produced and packaged.
Aspen's manufacturing plant in Gqeberha, where the first Johnson & Johnson doses of the Covid-19 vaccines are being produced and packaged.
PHOTO: File, Netwerk24
  • Aspen is set to release Covid-19 vaccines from its local manufacturing plant on Monday.
  • These are the first "fill and finish" vaccines to be completed locally.
  • The vaccines will be distributed locally and to other African countries.

Aspen will release the first Johnson & Johnson (J&J) doses of the Covid-19 vaccines packaged at its Gqeberha plant on Monday.

The company said the vaccines would be the first set of jabs manufactured locally from active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) imported from Europe. This method of production is known as "fill and finish".

Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive, said:

This represents a significant landmark for South Africa and the African continent as these are the first Covid-19 vaccines to be produced on the African continent by an African producer for South African and African patients. Supplies will also be made to the European Union and other offshore markets.

Aspen did not say how many vaccines were being released, but the health department said last week that they expected to receive 1.4 million doses from J&J this week.

READ: INTERVIEW | Biovac will not stop here, says CEO on new vaccine production deal

The release of the doses is going to boost the local vaccination drive further. In April, the drive suffered a blow when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stopped the production of J&J over contamination issues at a plant.

The vaccines will be distributed locally, but also to other African countries through the African Union's (AU) African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, the company said.

Last week, the Biovac Institute and Pfizer announced their deal for a "fill and finish" arrangement to produce 100 million vaccines by 2023.

Saad said: "Supply for Africa and South Africa is particularly rewarding, given the current global inequality in accessing vaccines. This represents a big step forward in ensuring that Africa can address its healthcare priorities."

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