Africa CDC hopeful Aspen will get COVID vaccine orders

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Africa's top public health body is hopeful South African pharmaceutical firm Aspen Pharmacare (APNJ.J) would get orders for its own brand COVID-19 vaccine.

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

Just one fifth of adults in Africa are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but demand has fallen across the continent which already receives donated vaccines from Western countries.

"We are quite confident that we will be able to get some positive results out of the negotiations that are continuing," Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director of Africa CDC, told reporters on Thursday as reported by Reuters.

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

However, according to reports, the pharmaceutical firm is yet to receive even a single order, the company told Reuters on Wednesday that its vaccine production lines, with a 450-million-dose annual production capacity, could soon be idled, or converted to produce anesthetics and other sterile products.

"We as Africa CDC, the African Union, we do not want to see a situation where Aspen closes any of their manufacturing capacity to (produce) COVID-19 vaccines," Ouma said, declining to give a timeline on possible orders for Aspen.

Ouma said Africa CDC wants every manufacturing facility on the continent that is manufacturing any health product, particularly vaccines, to have buyers from and for the continent.

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