South Africa working to avert closure of vaccine-manufacturing plant

By Jerry Omondi

CFP Photo

South Africa’s health ministry is working to convince pharmaceutical firm, Aspen Pharmacare, to keep its COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing plant open

The company announced earlier this week that it is considering closing its doors because it hasn’t received any orders to produce vaccines.

The plant in South Africa is Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine producing facility and was initially touted as a game-changer in the continent’s fight against the virus. The South African government would like to see the facility remain open to meet demand stemming from an anticipated fifth wave of the pandemic.

“We believe that through the engagement with the Aspen authorities, we will be able to persuade them to reconsider their decision or delay implementing that decision towards the anticipated 5th wave, with the number of COVID-19 cases,” SABC quotes the South Africa Health Department’s Spokesperson Foster Mohale as saying.

“We are working with the Aspen authorities so that this decision is not immediately implemented.”

Mohale’s remarks follow an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that he was engaged on a presidential level with other Heads of State to secure possible purchases of doses from the plant.

“It’s cause for concern that vaccines are not being procured. I have started engagements with the Presidents of Zambia, Uganda, Malawi and Kenya. We will also be engaging with the rest of the world to procure vaccines made in Africa,” he said.

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