Africa CDC hopes Aspen will get COVID shot orders

STORY: Africa’s top public health body said on Thursday (August 11) it was hopeful South African pharmaceutical firm Aspen Pharmacare would get orders for its own brand COVID-19 vaccine.

Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last month it's in detailed discussions with buyers to generate demand for Aspen's COVID-19 vaccine Aspenovax.

Aspen currently produces vaccines for Johnson & Johnson but it struck a deal in March to produce, price and sell its own-brand version of the shot for African markets.

However, it has not received any orders for the vaccine to date.

The company told Reuters on Wednesday (August 10) that its vaccine production line could soon be idled, or converted to produce anaesthetics and other sterile products.

Nor was it possible to predict future J&J demand, the firm said, leaving the future of its 450-million-dose annual production capacity in doubt.

That deal was considered a game-changer for a continent frustrated by sluggish Western handouts.

But, while only a fifth of adults in Africa are fully vaccinated, demand for shots has failed to materialize.