Aspen Pharmacare, a South African holding company for pharmaceutical concerns, has reportedly confirmed releasing the first batch of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa from its headquarters site in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape.
As per sources, the vaccines will be shipped to Johnson & Johnson from Aspen's headquarter manufacturing site in the coming week. The move comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa recently committed to significantly increasing the country's vaccination rate.
Aspen stated that these vaccines would be distributed throughout South Africa following various distribution agreements with Johnson & Johnson, the National Department of Health, and other stakeholders.
Vaccines from these lots will also be offered through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team/African Union platform. This is a breakthrough for South Africa and Africa, as these will be the first Covid-19 vaccines manufactured on the continent by an African manufacturer.
However, Aspen added supplies would also be delivered to the European Union and other offshore markets.
According to President Ramaphosa, the government will increase vaccine sites and strengthen the country's vaccination registration system. In a speech to the country, he announced that they will also expand their inoculation capacity on weekends.
According to reports, approximately 6.3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in South Africa, equating to over 10% of the population.
From September 1, 2021, the vaccination pool will be extended to allow people between 18 and 34 to be vaccinated. This will be to the age groups that are already eligible, who are above the age of 35," the president stated.
Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are expected to deliver approximately 31 million more doses in the following two to three months. He further said that Aspen would begin producing vaccinations exclusively for the African continent in October.