Friday, February 3, 2023

Africans will get wider access to vaccines in new distribution deal

Vaccine-short Africa is hopeful of receiving more COVID-19 doses, as a South African pharmaceutical firm is the first in Africa to distribute them for sale across the continent.

US-based Johnson & Johnson says it may soon license Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s largest drugmaker, to manufacture an “African COVID-19 vaccine” called Aspenvax.

Aspen Pharmacare will not make its own vaccine, but will package and sell the vaccine manufactured by Johnson in early 2022. The company has a factory in South Africa, from where it already distributes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine nationwide.

The proposed deal would significantly boost supplies to Africa, which has faced a severe shortage of vaccines, and the proliferation of the new Omron variant.

The World Health Organization stated that only 3% of Africans are fully vaccinated.

African officials say the focus of Africa is vaccine inequality, as Western countries prioritize distributing vaccines in their countries. Boosters in the West far exceed earlier vaccines in many southern African countries, the figures show.

“Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination rates are much lower than high-income countries, and we need to do something different,” said Adrian Thomas, Johnson & Johnson’s vice president of global affairs.

The distribution deal with Aspen Pharmacare will provide equal access and equal pricing for Africans, the companies said.

“Quite simply, without widespread vaccination and access to vaccines, this pandemic will not come to a similar end,” Thomas said.

“We are fulfilling our commitment to make available 900 million doses of our COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union and the COVAX facility,” he said. “Only by working together can we bring together the skills, expertise and resources needed to support.” Vaccination of those who are most in need during this critical phase of the pandemic.”

Aspen CEO and founder Stephen Saad said the company is in a good position because it is based in South Africa, already distributes vaccines nationwide and is advocating for more vaccinations on the continent.

“If Aspen had not been in Africa, would any of these supplements have gone to the continent?” Saad asked. “I do not think so.”

Strive Masiwa, head of the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Force, said the deal would make African countries less dependent on Western governments to supply vaccines.

“It gives us flexibility,” Masieva said. “It gives us one of the key things we’ve sought: the security of supply.”

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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