Janssen and Aspen enter deal to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine in Africa

Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) said it completed an agreement with South African-based Aspen to manufacture and distribute COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, with the goal of increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates across the continent.

Currently, only about 12% of people in Africa are fully vaccinated, which is well below the World Health Organization’s target of 70% population coverage for all countries.

Under the deal, New Brunswick-based J&J will provide COVID-19 vaccine drug substance to Aspen, which will manufacture and make the finished vaccines available under its own brand name Aspenovax.

The vaccines will be provided to all 55 Member States of the African Union (AU), as well as crucial multilateral entities that back the Covid-19 inoculation campaign in Africa, including the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the COVAX Facility.

“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,” said Dr. Martin Fitchet, head of Global Public Health, J&J, Cilag GmbH International. “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.”