S. Africa's Aspen signs vaccine deal with SII

STORY: Aspen Phamacare has signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India to manufacture and sell four Aspen-branded vaccines for Africa.

That's as the South African company seeks to utilize its near-idle COVID-19 vaccine production lines.

Shares in Aspen jumped 6% in afternoon trade on Wednesday (August 31) on news of the deal and after it posted a 31% increase in full-year profit.

CEO Stephen Saad said the deal gives Aspen an assured pipeline of vaccine orders for years to come.

That's after concerns that its 450-million-dose vaccine production line was being put at risk.

The drugmaker has a contract with Johnson & Johnson to package its COVID-19 vaccine in vials.

Earlier this year it also extended an agreement allowing it to package, sell and distribute the vaccine in Africa under its own brand Aspenovax.

But it has not yet received a single order for the COVID vaccine.

Aspen said in a statement that under the Serum agreement it will produce hexavalent, pneumococcal, polyvalent meningococcal and rotavirus shots.

Those are all vaccines commonly administered in Africa.

The statement added that the two companies may also discuss expanding the agreement to include new products.