Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) announced today that it completed an agreement for the manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa.
The landmark agreement, made between Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals and South Africa-based Aspen SA Operations, allows for the first COVID-19 vaccine to be manufactured and made available by an African company for people living in Africa, with aims of increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates across the continent.
According to a news release, only about 12% of people in Africa are fully vaccinated, which falls well short of the World Health Organization’s target of 70% population coverage for all countries. Johnson & Johnson has shipped more than 200 million vaccine doses to Africa through a combination of advance purchase agreements with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, South Africa and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on behalf of the COVAX Facility, along with government donations.
The company said that Aspen, one of its contract manufacturers since November 2020, has been a significant supplier within the Johnson & Johnson global network. Today’s agreement enables Aspen to use COVID-19 vaccine drug substance supplied by Johnson & Johnson to produce an Aspen-branded finished vaccine and make doses available to the public sector in Africa.
“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,” Johnson & Johnson Cilag GmbH International Head of Global Public Health Dr. Martin Fitchet said in the release. “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.”