Africa CDC urges COVID-19 vaccine buyers to order from S.Africa's Aspen

FILE PHOTO: A worker at the South African pharmaceutical major Aspen Pharmacare, is seen at its Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine facility in Gqeberha, South Africa, October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Africa’s top public health body urged all those purchasing COVID-19 vaccines for the continent to place orders with South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare, saying the market was key to developing vaccine manufacturing on the continent.

The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was doing everything it could behind the scenes to prevent a situation where Aspen closes its facility due to a lack of orders.

Aspen negotiated a licensing deal in November to package and sell Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and distribute it across Africa.

This was hailed as a game-changing moment for an under-vaccinated continent frustrated by sluggish Western handouts, but Aspen’s COVID-19 vaccine plant now risks shutting down after receiving not a single order, a company executive said on Saturday.

“We have said from the very beginning of the conversation on local production that market, market, market is the key to ensuring that we have a thriving local production, manufacturing enterprise,” said Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, deputy director of the Africa CDC.

“Our message is that we need to have all those who are purchasing vaccines at the global level for African countries, they need to purchase those from African producers first,” he said at a regular media briefing.

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