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Collaboration agreement for manufacture of vaccines

Home Business Management Finance & Investment Collaboration agreement for manufacture of vaccines

ASPEN SA Operations has concluded a ten-year agreement with Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, for Aspen SA Operations to manufacture, market and distribute four Aspen-branded routine vaccines in Africa, excluding certain markets due to the Serum Institute having granted prior rights to third parties.

The terms of agreement for the vaccines, namely Pneumococcal Vaccine, Rotavirus Vaccine, Polyvalent Meningococcal Vaccine and Hexavalent Vaccine include a technical transfer and formulation, fill and finish arrangement.  Aspen SA Operations is granted the rights to manufacture the products from bulk drug substance supplied by the Serum Institute and make the products available to markets in Africa via designated multilateral organisations, national governments of member states of the African Union and other public and private market customers.

In terms of the agreement,  Aspen SA Operations has secured a licence to the enabling know-how from the Serum Institute and there is a good faith undertaking between the parties to discuss the expansion of the agreement to include new products or new versions of the products.

Aspen also anticipates receiving grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to support African regional manufacturing capacity for the affordable supply of vaccines to, among others, African countries and Gavi/UNICEF, as well as contributing to pandemic preparedness through rights to a share of Aspen’s vaccine manufacturing capacity over a period of ten years.

According to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), currently less than 1% of vaccines used on the continent contain any local manufacture, yet through GAVI, UNICEF, COVAX and the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine are supplied to African countries to support both the Expanded Programme on Immunization  protecting children from a range of vaccine preventable diseases, as well as the provision of COVID-19 vaccines for the general population.

Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive said, “Africa has learnt from the experience of previous pandemics including HIV and now COVID, that regional capacities are fundamental to solving regional health challenges. The agreement concluded with the Serum Institute, and the anticipated grant funding from the Gates Foundation and CEPI, complement our previously stated commitment to expand sustainable and durable vaccine manufacturing on the continent to reduce Africa’s global vaccine dependency. We look forward to partnering with the Serum Institute. They are the largest manufacturers of vaccines globally and have a proven record of supporting universal healthcare. 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.”

The products will be produced at Aspen’s manufacturing facility in Gqeberha which has accreditation from a range of stringent international regulatory authorities and provides medicines and vaccines to improve the health and quality of life of patients in both the domestic and international markets.

Adar Poonawalla, The Serum Institute CEO, said  “We are pleased to be partnering with Aspen and to support them in fulfilling their vaccine 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.”

Mark Suzman, Chief Executive Officer, Gates Foundation, said, “Despite significant successes in expanding access to vaccines and reducing child mortality, the recent inequities exposed by the COVID pandemic have clearly highlighted the need to strengthen Africa’s capacity to manufacture its own life-saving vaccines. As a critical step to closing this gap we are proud to be able to provide financial and technical support to this new partnership between the Serum Institute of India and Aspen and look forward to working closely with them and other regional partners to expand the supply and sources of vaccines for African and global markets going forward. This is in line with our work over two decades with a range of partners, including GAVI and Serum, to help build a diversified ecosystem to develop, manufacture and distribute high-quality, low-cost vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.”

On 10 May 2022 the AU called for agencies responsible for bulk purchasing of vaccines to offtake at least 30% of all vaccines produced by Africa for global consumption. In Africa, 99% of all vaccines administered are currently imported. Enhancing access to medicines is at the forefront of Aspen’s ESG strategy.

“Africa is a significant consumer of a range of vaccines and demand will grow further in the next decade, yet the vast bulk of those vaccines are sourced from outside the continent. The Covid pandemic laid bare Africa’s vulnerability when supplies are constrained globally. We therefore welcome the announcement of the partnership for the production of routine vaccines by Aspen,” said Ebrahim Patel, South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition.

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