When Aspen Pharmacare struck a deal with J&J to manufacture and sell its own generic Covid-19 vaccine, much of the world rejoiced. Aspen CEO Stephen Saad said it would help bring Africa up to speed with the rest of the world, and President Joe Biden’s administration agreed and pledged $200 million to the Gqeberha plant for increase production.
But today, despite being the first factory in Africa to manufacture vaccines for the continent, the pharma has not received any orders, which could lead to the closure of the site, according to a recent report by The New York Times.
A backlog of available vaccines has led to slow distribution in Africa. And health agencies now no longer need new doses until the old ones are properly administered or expire.
This may surprise. Less than 20% of Africa is fully immunized. This number was expected to decline when manufacturing sites like Aspen were operational. Saad said his company would increase its Covid-19 vaccine capacity to 1.3 billion doses per year by early 2024 and the expansion could generate more than $542 million per year in additional revenue. .
Meanwhile, Aspen’s head of strategic business development Stavros Nicolaou told The Times that Aspen would turn to manufacturing anesthetics if there were still no pharmaceutical industry orders in the pipeline. next six weeks. However, not all 500 staff will be successful in making the transition, he said.
“COVAX is still under contract with J&J and we would be very happy for any doses we are still waiting to supply from Aspen,” Gavi, the vaccine alliance, said in a statement. “We have communicated this to J&J. However, again, this is solely a decision for J&J to make.
J&J’s intellectual property license is valid until the end of 2026 and includes all new releases of drug substances as the threat of variants looms. J&J’s vaccine is beneficial in Africa, especially in rural areas, because it is a one-time injection, making it easier for those who have to travel long distances to get vaccinated.
This isn’t the first controversy to come out of the factory. Reports emerged in August that while the United States poured money into the site in an effort to supply doses to the African continent, the majority of doses manufactured there were shipped overseas to the continent. ‘Europe. It came at a time when just 2% of Africans were vaccinated and at least 800,000 had been shipped to Spain in June and July.