Aspen and J&J in talks to expand vaccine production in South Africa

The pharmaceutical giant, Aspen, is in talks with Johnson & Johnson to expand its Gqeberha site to increase Covid-19 vaccine production in South Africa.
Aspen which on Wednesday, reported a 21% increase in its headline profit per share, is also negotiating to secure a licence to produce the vaccines.

The company’s factory in Gqeberha, currently only handles the final stage of the vaccination, also called “fill-finish process”.

Aspen imports the coronavirus vaccine in frozen format from Johnson & Johnson. It is then thawed, after which vials are filled with the liquid vaccine, and then sealed.

The company will produce the drug substance itself, if it gets the licence from Johnson & Johnson – which is like a concentrate in the production of the vaccines in South Africa.

Aspen in a statement, said that the production of Covid-19 vaccines at its Gqeberha site was “the standout achievement” over the past financial year.

The company’s group revenue increased by 12% to R37.8 billion in the year to end-June, resulting from a 36% increase in manufacturing revenue partly from the vaccine contract.

Aspen however said that, “the low/no margin nature of the transaction-related finished dose form supply” took a toll on its profit. The first of the vaccine sales began in the last few months.