Africa CDC urges vaccine orders for S.Africa's Aspen

STORY: 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.

The Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention 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's CEO Stephen Saad warned that the company will switch about half of its COVID-19 vaccine production capacity onto other products if demand doesn't pick up within six weeks.

The pharmaceutical company negotiated a licensing deal in November to package and sell Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine and distribute it across Africa.

There were also expectations of high demand for the firm's own-brand version of the shot.

This was hailed as a game-changing moment for an under-vaccinated continent frustrated by sluggish Western handouts.

But Aspen's company executive said on Saturday that it had not received a single order for its Aspenovax vaccine.

It currently has the capacity to produce around one million vaccine doses per day.

Roughly half of that is being used to fulfill a supply agreement with J&J.

Saad added the remaining capacity, which had been expected to produce Aspenovax shots destined for the African market, is currently sitting idle.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa told state broadcaster SABC on Wednesday (May 4) he had reached out to the governments of Zambia, Uganda, Malawi and Kenya in an attempt to drum up orders for Aspen.

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