Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Aspen SA Operations completes an agreement to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine in Africa

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On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson announced the completion of a landmark agreement between Janssen Pharmaceuticals and South African manufacturer Aspen SA Operations to enable the first COVID-19 vaccine to be manufactured and distributed by an African company for people living in Africa, with the goal of increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates across the continent.

Expanding worldwide vaccine coverage is vital for containing the COVID-19 pandemic and lowering the danger of additional SARS-CoV-2 mutations emerging. Only approximately 12% of Africans are fully vaccinated, far below the World Health Organization’s aim of 70% coverage for all countries.

We sought to create and distribute a vaccine that can protect the health of everyone, everywhere in response to the COVID-19 pandemic because we believe that no one is safe unless everyone is safe.

“From the outset of this pandemic we aimed to develop a simple-to-use and accessible vaccine that could be transported around the world through standard vaccine distribution channels. We initiated clinical trials in all regions of the world to generate evidence across multiple geographies and diverse, at-risk populations and forged a strategic partnership with Aspen in Africa and others to manufacture our vaccine globally. We’re proud to take our long-standing collaboration with Aspen to the next level, to continue to address the COVID-19 threat and lay the groundwork for a healthier, more secure future for people in Africa,” 

said Martin Fitchet, M.D., Head of Global Public Health, Johnson & Johnson, Cilag GmbH International. 

Through a combination of advance purchase agreements with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust in South Africa and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on behalf of the COVAX Facility, and government donations, Johnson & Johnson has supplied more than 200 million vaccine doses to Africa. Since November 2020, Aspen has been a prominent supplier inside the Johnson & Johnson global network as one of our contract manufacturers.

The agreement allows Aspen to produce Aspen-branded finished vaccines and make doses available to the public sector in Africa, including all 55 African Union Member States and key multilateral entities supporting Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, such as the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the COVAX Facility, using Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine drug substance.

“With the conclusion of this agreement, our vision for Africa’s own vaccine has become a reality. This has been achieved through tremendous teamwork and collaboration between Johnson & Johnson and Aspen. Through this agreement and their earlier actions, Johnson & Johnson has demonstrated its commitment to our continent. Initially by choosing Aspen, located in Africa, as a core manufacturing partner, and then by showing resolve and dedication to a technical transfer process during the most stringent lockdown periods of the COVID outbreak,”

said Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive.
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