Johannesburg, South Africa (CU)_ Aspen Pharmaceuticals, South Africa’s largest multinational pharmaceutical giant, announced on Monday that it has released the first batch of African-made COVID-19 vaccinations under a licensing agreement with the US company Johnson & Johnson. According to the Durban-based company, the first consignment of vaccine was leaving its plant at Gqeberha, earlier known as Port Elizabeth.
According to the statement, it outlines the release as a significant landmark. It says, “the first COVID-19 vaccines to be produced on the African continent, by an African producer for South African and African patients.” The announcement was made as the country, which has been badly impacted by the coronavirus in Africa, speeds up its vaccination effort.
Over 6.3 million vaccinations have been rolled out in the country, with one out of every ten South Africans injected with at least one shot. The present vaccine schedule is for individuals aged 35 and up, but beginning September 1, the regimen will be available to anybody aged 18 and up. Africa is collaborating with the European Union and other partners to establish regional vaccine production centres.
Pharmaceutical leaders BioNTech and Pfizer also struck an agreement with the South African vaccine maker Biovac last week to help manufacture vaccines in Cape Town in a fill and finish process. President Cyril Ramaphosa recently spoke about the global disparities in vaccine procurement, emphasizing the need for Africa to develop self-sufficiency.