South Africa Will Manufacture Life-Saving Vaccine
South Africa to Manufacture Life-Saving Vaccine. Photo: iStockphoto / sezer ozger

President Cyril Ramaphosa proudly announced on Wednesday evening that a local South African company has entered into a preliminary agreement with multinational firm Johnson & Johnson, as one of the companies to manufacture and package its candidate COVID-19 vaccine.

“In recognition of the country’s manufacturing capability, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world, Johnson & Johnson, has entered into a preliminary agreement with a local company, Aspen Pharmacare, to manufacture and package its candidate vaccine,” the President said.

Updating the nation on South Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday evening, the President said Aspen has capacity to manufacture 300 million doses of the candidate vaccine at its Nelson Mandela Bay plant.

“This… life-saving medical product that will be needed across the world, which will be manufactured by South African workers,” he said.

South Africa is collaborating with several multinational pharmaceutical companies to obtain a safe and effective vaccine for the people and is contributing towards the availability of the vaccine on the rest of the continent.

He said this is in addition to the progress made by Biovac, a local biopharmaceutical company that is in partnership with the South African government.

The President said earlier this week, the world witnessed a game-changer in the world of science regarding the development of a vaccine, announced by Pfizer. He said this is the first evidence that an effective vaccine against the Coronavirus is possible.

“And that the preliminary data from the research suggests that it may be more than 90% effective. This changes our perspective of the future of the Coronavirus pandemic. This development brings new hope in our fight against this virus.”

He said an effective and safe vaccine is the world’s greatest defence against COVID-19, and there are now several candidate vaccines in development across the world.

“Equitable access to an effective vaccine is vital to the successful containment of this pandemic.

“We are working through the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to acquire and fund a vaccine for the African continent.

“It is estimated that Africa will need around $12 billion and 750 million doses of an effective vaccine.”

Earlier this week, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union, the President established the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to lead this effort.

“Our Minister of Health will serve on this task team, together with other outstanding citizens of our continent.”

South Africa has also been appointed as a co-chair of the global ACT-A initiative that is facilitating access to innovative interventions – including vaccines – for all countries.

The President said countries are going to have to allocate funding so that there can be access to vaccines to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus. –