sunny.png
Tuesday July 5th, 2022 5:39PM

South African firm says it may close its COVID vaccine plant

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The first factory to produce COVID-19 vaccines in Africa says it has not received enough orders and may stop production within weeks, in what a senior World Health Organization official described Thursday as a “failure” in efforts to achieve vaccine equity.

South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare said that it cannot let its large-scale sterile manufacturing facilities sit idle, and will return instead to making anesthetics. At the outset of the COVID pandemic, the company shifted its production and achieved capacity to produce more than 200 million doses annually of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"It was widely hailed as a great achievement for Africa, a game-changer for the continent. But it has not been followed up with orders. We have not received any orders from the big multilateral agencies," Stavros Nicolaou, senior executive for strategic trade development at Aspen Pharmacare, told The Associated Press Thursday.

"COVAX has placed orders for 2.1 billion doses of COVID vaccines and not a single one has been placed with Aspen or any other African manufacturers,” said Nicolaou, referring to the U.N.-backed effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries.

“It's a cardinal sin to have valuable sterile manufacturing capacity and not put it to use," said Nicolaou. "We cannot leave this production capacity idle. We will have to repivot from vaccine manufacturing and return to producing anesthetics unless in the short term we get firm orders for our COVID-19 vaccine.”

Nicolaou said the lack of orders “is not great for Africa's ambition to reduce its dependence on imported vaccines from 99% to 40%. If we fail at this first step, this is bad not just for Aspen but for all others aspiring to make vaccines in Africa.”

At a press briefing on Thursday, Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye, the WHO's emergencies chief in Africa said: “it may be a failure but we will learn from it.” He added that if orders were to ramp up, the factory could likely be restarted relatively quickly.

“It is unfortunate that this plant did not receive enough orders,” he said, saying that Africa got two-thirds of its vaccines via COVAX and that those vaccines were ordered by vaccines alliance Gavi.

He said Gavi has previously said they do not plan to order any more vaccines, since about 30% of shots shipped to Africa have yet to be administered, given persistent logistical problems.

Health officials have repeatedly decried the concentration of vaccine production in rich countries, saying the lack of manufacturing capacity in poorer countries was among several factors that put them at the back of the line when COVID-19 vaccines were initially made last year.

Some experts said Aspen's imminent closure should change the world's approach to public health security.

“The global community spends billions of dollars to shore up military defenses that might never get used, but refuses to spend a fraction of that to support global health defense,” said Zain Rizvi, research director at the advocacy group, Public Citizen.

He said global purchasers like COVAX should support manufacturers in poorer countries and described globally distributed vaccine manufacturing as “our protection against this virus.”

The production of locally-made shots at Aspen's factory was heralded as a first step toward Africa's efforts to meet its own vaccine needs — but there was significant criticism after reports emerged last year that the majority of its shots were being exported to Europe, according to its deal with J&J.

While nearly 70% of people in rich countries have been immunized against the coronavirus, just 17% of Africa's 1.3 billion people have been vaccinated, according to statistics issued by the Africa CDC on Thursday. In South Africa, 45% of adults are fully vaccinated, although about 85% of the population is thought to have some immunity based on past exposure to the virus.

____

Cheng reported from London.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Health - Senior Health, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Health Care
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US stocks open lower as inflation remains stubbornly high
Stocks are off to another weak start on Wall Street Thursday as more declines in big technology companies weighed on the broader market
9:48AM ( 2 minutes ago )
Crypto comes to Washington. Will the millions buy influence?
Cryptocurrency tycoons are emerging as new power players in American politics
9:46AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Biden urges world to renew COVID fight as US nears 1M deaths
President Joe Biden has appealed to world leaders for a renewed international commitment to attacking COVID-19 as he leads the U.S. in marking the approaching “tragic milestone” of 1 million deaths at home from the virus
9:44AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden co-hosts 2nd global COVID summit as US nears 1M deaths
President Joe Biden will appeal for a renewed international commitment to attacking COVID-19 as the second global pandemic summit opens
8:58AM ( 52 minutes ago )
WHO: COVID-19 falling everywhere, except Americas and Africa
The World Health Organization says the number of new coronavirus cases reported worldwide has continued to fall except in the Americas and Africa
7:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
North Korea confirms 1st COVID outbreak, Kim orders lockdown
North Korea has imposed a nationwide lockdown to control its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak of the pandemic
7:23AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Health
Palestinians mourn slain Al Jazeera journalist, blame Israel
Thousands have gathered to mourn a slain Al Jazeera journalist in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah
9:04AM ( 46 minutes ago )
US producer prices surge 11% in April as food prices jump
U.S. producer prices soared 11% in April from a year earlier, a hefty gain that indicates high inflation will remain a burden for consumers and businesses in the months ahead
8:58AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Alabama shipwreck holds key for kin of enslaved Africans
A crew working on the Alabama coast is assessing the remains of the last slave ship known to have landed in the United States, more than 160 years ago
8:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
FIFA takes on EA Sports video game in soccer's new rivalry
The name “FIFA” can bring to mind images of the World Cup and soccer’s greatest players
6:27AM ( 3 hours ago )
Japan's SoftBank sinks to losses as investments sour
Japanese technology company SoftBank Group has dropped into losses as the value of its investments declines
5:32AM ( 4 hours ago )
Amid drought, California desalination project at crossroads
For more than two decades, California’s Orange County has debated whether to build a seaside plant to convert ocean water into drinking water in the hopes of buffering against ever-drier weather and drought
1:11AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Aging pope urges elderly people to consider age a blessing
Pope Francis is urging elderly people to consider their advanced aging a blessing, not a condemnation as he himself struggles to cope with a bad knee that has made walking nearly impossible
6:47AM ( 2 days ago )
Older people fret less about aging in place: AP-NORC Poll
The older you are, the less you fret about staying in your own home or community as you age
11:48AM ( 2 weeks ago )
Court says UK's nursing home COVID-19 policy was illegal
A British court has ruled that the Conservative government acted illegally when it discharged hospital patients into nursing homes without testing them for COVID-19 or isolating them
10:42AM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP Health - Senior Health
Russia hits Ukraine’s east as Finland moves toward NATO bid
Russia pounded areas in Ukraine’s east, including the last pocket of resistance in besieged Mariupol, as the war pushed Finland closer to seeking NATO membership
6:45AM ( 3 hours ago )
Live updates | UN blames Russia for most civilian casualties
The U.N.’s human rights chief says her office has found that Russian forces and affiliated armed groups are responsible for most civilian deaths during the war in Ukraine
6:36AM ( 3 hours ago )
Live updates | Top Russia official warns of war with NATO
A top Russian official says that there is a growing threat of the fighting in Ukraine spilling into a direct conflict between Russia and NATO
5:52AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Pfizer to spend $11.6B on migraine treatment maker Biohaven
Pfizer is starting to put its COVID-19 cash influx to use by spending $11.6 billion to venture deeper into a new treatment area
12:49PM ( 1 day ago )
FDA restricts J&J's COVID-19 vaccine due to blood clot risk
U.S. regulators are strictly limiting who can receive Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine due to a rare but serious risk of blood clots
12:29AM ( 6 days ago )
COVID coverage for all dries up even as hospital costs rise
For the first time, the U.S. came close to providing health care for all for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic
12:02AM ( 6 days ago )
AP Business - Health Care
Biden urges world to renew COVID fight as US nears 1M deaths
President Joe Biden has appealed to world leaders for a renewed international commitment to attacking COVID-19 as he leads the U.S. in marking the approaching “tragic milestone” of 1 million deaths at home from the virus
9:44AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Live updates | Russia to respond to Finnish decision on NATO
Russia has warned that it will have to take unspecified “military-technical” steps in response to Finland’s decision to join NATO
9:32AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Severe weather causes damage in Minnesota; 1 dead in crash
Severe storms brought damaging winds, heavy rain and a few reports of tornadoes to Minnesota, where one person died in a crash that authorities say was caused by downed power lines
9:30AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Astronomers capture 1st image of Milky Way's huge black hole
Astronomers have unveiled the first wild but fuzzy image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy
9:21AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Russia hits east Ukraine, Finland moves toward joining NATO
Russian forces pounded areas in Ukraine’s east on, including the last pocket of resistance in besieged Mariupol
9:16AM ( 35 minutes ago )