South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that a new “historic agreement” will see the rate of delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines to South Africa and the rest of the continent increased significantly.
The US-based pharmaceutical powerhouse has also committed to allowing South Africa to manufacture its vaccines ‘in time.’
While vaccines are yet to be completely manufactured in the country, the Aspen factory in Gqaberha currently handles the final stage of the J&J vaccine manufacture – called the ‘fill-finish process.’
The factory imports the COVID-19 vaccine in frozen format from Johnson & Johnson. It is then thawed, vials are then filled with the liquid vaccine and then sealed.
However, Ramaphosa says that the substance of the vaccine itself, which is like a concentrate in the production of the jab, should also be produced in South Africa.
The President says that J&J has agreed to adapt the current arrangement so that SA can produce the vaccine under license, rather than under contract, which will “[result in South Africa] and the continent having control over the vaccines”.
“We are negotiating that, in time, the drug substance itself would be produced here in South Africa, so that we have a fully owned African vaccine manufactured on African soil in a number of countries on our continent.”
A “Historic Agreement”
According to Fin24, Ramaphosa said the African Union and the European Union have reached a “historic” agreement in the last few days that will “significantly improve the supply of vaccines.’
This appears to be in reference to a joint announcement by the World Bank as well as US, German and French government agencies. These entities will provide more than R10-billion ($697-million) in financing for the production of the J&J vaccine in South Africa.
This will provide 500 million doses of the shots through 2022, Bloomberg reports.
“Through this agreement, Aspen will be delivering over 17 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses to South Africa and other African countries over the next three months, commencing in late July,” Ramaphosa said. This number is expected to double monthly from October.
“These developments, together with our current agreements with manufacturers, means that South Africa should have a pipeline of vaccine supplies sufficient to meet our vaccination target.”