Africa’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that less than 1% of the vaccines used in Africa contain local manufacture. However, with the support of organisations such as UNICEF and the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) doses are supplied to African countries. This is clearly the short-term solution but is neither practical nor sustainable. Looking to the future, Aspen and Serum hope to change this.  

A statement issued on 31st August by Aspen Pharmacare announced a partnership with The Serum Institute of India. This ten-year agreement will allow Aspen South Africa to “manufacture, market, and distribute four Aspen-branded routine vaccines in Africa”. This excludes “certain markets”, in which Serum has granted “prior rights to third parties”.  

The vaccines are the Pneumococcal Vaccine, Rotavirus Vaccine, Polyvalent Meningococcal Vaccine, and Hexavalent Vaccine.  The agreement includes a “technical transfer and formulation, fill and finish agreement”. This enables Aspen to  

  • Manufacture the vaccines from “bulk drug substance” supplied by Serum 
  • Make the vaccines available to markets in Africa by “means of transactions with designated multilateral organisations”, as well as governments of the African Union and other customers 

Produced at Aspen’s manufacturing facility in Gqeberha, these vaccines will benefit from its “accreditation from a range of stringent international regulatory authorities”.  

Funding the future 

Aspen’s statement also detailed an anticipated grant funding from the Gates Foundation as well as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). This will “support African regional manufacturing capacity” and ensure “affordable supply”.  

Aspen’s Group Chief Executive Stephen Saad stated that Africa has experienced multiple pandemics, and “regional capacities are fundamental to solving regional health challenges”. Through the agreement and the grant funding, Aspen’s “previously stated commitment” to “sustainable and durable” manufacturing in Africa can be realised.  

“Aspen is now well-positioned as a first mover to contribute to Continental and, by implication, global health security through the provision of world-class, competitive, and proven vaccine manufacturing capability and capacity.”  

Adar Poonawalla is CEO of The Serum Institute. He is “pleased” at the prospect of a partnership and hopes to enable Aspen to meet their “ambitions for Africa”.  

“We endorse their efforts to contribute towards reducing the Continent’s global vaccine dependency and we are confident that the Products will provide enhanced opportunities of wellbeing for all patients in Africa”.  

To meet speakers from Serum as well as the Gates Foundation and CEPI, get your tickets to the World Vaccine Congress in October.