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Stephen Saad: Africa is an imperative. We will be pretty keen to make other vaccines. Picture: Supplied
Stephen Saad: Africa is an imperative. We will be pretty keen to make other vaccines. Picture: Supplied

Aspen Pharmacare, SA’s largest pharmaceutical group, has partnered with German-based Siemens to ramp up vaccine production in Africa.

Aspen is in the process of licensing the rights for the first African Covid-19 vaccines, which it will launch as Aspenovax during the second quarter of 2022.

In a joint statement on Monday, Aspen and the German technology company said Aspen will leverage Siemens SA’s digital technologies to enhance the current manufacturing process at its flagship site in the Eastern Cape.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with Siemens for additional digital technologies that will further complement our existing high-technology, state-of-the-art pharmaceutical equipment and systems used to manufacture advanced sterile medicines, including vaccines for the continent,” Aspen CEO Stephen Saad said.

He said the continent imported 99% of its vaccine requirements, which led to uneven access . The partnership between the two companies comes two months after Aspen reached a deal with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to produce its own branded version of Covid-19 vaccine to sell on the continent.

The agreement with J&J gave Aspen greater control over which customers to supply and paved the way for a further licensing deal for manufacturing the active pharmaceutical ingredients used in thevaccine, bolstering Africa’s security of supply.

Aspen was contracted by J&J in November 2020 to formulate, fill and package vials of its Covid-19 shot, but until now it has been J&J that determines which countries can purchase the product.

“With our innovative Digital Twin simulation, the production environment will be kept up to date to be leveraged in determining the impact of strategic improvement initiatives,” said Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO for Siemens Southern & Eastern Africa

“The full scope of supply is aimed at improving the efficiency, thereby reducing wastage of valuable vaccine doses while introducing energy management to minimise carbon emissions.”

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development has commissioned development finance institution DEG — which focuses on providing finance businesses in developing and emerging markets — to finance the establishment of home-grown vaccine manufacturing capacities as part of the deal between Aspen and Siemens.

mahlangua@businesslive.co.za

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