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  2. Africa's Covid vaccine maker blames WHO for failure

    Sara Adam

    Africa business journalist, BBC News

    A woman received a Covid-19 vaccine in Cape Town, South Africa - December 2021
    Image caption: Aspen has a licensing deal to package and sell the Johnson & Johnson vaccine across Africa

    Africa's largest production line for Covid-19 vaccines will be adapted to produce other drugs because of a lack of demand.

    The vaccines were being made at a factory near Cape Town owned by South African pharmaceuticals business Aspen Pharmacare.

    In March last year, Aspen struck a deal with US pharmaceuticals giant Johnson & Johnson to package and distribute its vaccine across Africa.

    According to Dr Stavros Nicolau, a senior director at Aspen, the agreement assumed there would be demand for the vaccines from the World Health Organization (WHO).

    But it never materialised, he told the BBC.

    Keeping the production line going would no longer be sustainable, and the equipment would be used to make anaesthetics instead, he explained.

    He said Aspen would only produce Covid-19 vaccines on an emergency basis.

    The African Union has a target for 60% of all vaccines administered on the continent to be produced locally by 2040. Currently the figure is just 1%.

    Dr Nicolau said that at the height of the pandemic, there had been calls globally for Africa to produce more of its own vaccines.

    But he insisted this could only happen if producers had support from international agencies, such as the WHO.

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