South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare already assembles the J&J COVID-19 vaccine in a factory in Gqeberha, formerly known as Port Elizabeth. The Aspen facility blends the imported components of the vaccine, puts it in vials, and packages the doses, a process known as fill-and-finish.
That facility has a capacity of 220 million vaccines per year and is selling them in South Africa and to other African countries.
Ramaphosa said Africa has secured 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the African Union’s vaccine acquisition task team, but believes the continent needs more.
“These doses represent only around half of what the continent needs to vaccinate 900 million people in order to achieve the 70% target set by the World Health Organization,” said Ramaphosa.
In addition to producing vaccines for COVID-19, the new facility will focus on developing products to fight HIV, different types of cancer and other diseases that may not be a huge problem in other parts of the world but are major health problems in Africa.
According to John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new facility will help address public health challenges confronting the continent.