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30m more vaccine doses for SA

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President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the South African Inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 has ordered 30 million vaccine doses for the country

THE South African Inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 vaccines inspected the Aspen Pharmacare sterile manufacturing facility in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape on Monday. Picture: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

Durban – THE South African Inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 vaccines inspected the Aspen Pharmacare sterile manufacturing facility in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape on Monday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was part of the delegation, announced that the committee has ordered 30 million vaccine doses for the country. An expected 220 million doses were ordered by the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.

The visit to the facility focussed on progress in vaccine production as part of the partnership between the government and the private sector in the national vaccination programme.

In November 2020, Aspen Pharmacare collaborated with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to establish the capacity required for the manufacturing of the J&J Covid-19 vaccine at Aspen’s sterile facility in Gqeberha.

The facility contains high-technology equipment and systems that will be used to manufacture state-of-the-art sterile drugs and vaccines. The facility packages these products into vials, ampoules and pre-filled syringes. The facility has the capacity to produce up to 300 million doses of the J&J vaccine a year.

THE South African Inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 vaccines inspected the Aspen Pharmacare sterile manufacturing facility in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape on Monday. Picture: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

“Aspen belongs to us as South Africans. The country must be in pole position to get the vaccines manufactured here with immediate effect. We are pushing for the vaccines manufacturing to be expedited. We are pleased from what we see and the commitment made. The world-class facility that is here is in another league,” Ramaphosa said.

“The employees know their craft. The J&J vaccine is beneficial to our country. It’s a one shot vaccine. It’s what we need in outlying areas, townships and rural areas. We must not be left behind in dealing with this pandemic. I call for the end of vaccine nationalism. Vaccine apartheid must end. Some developed economies have hogged the vaccines. They must release them. No one is safe until everyone is safe,” said the president.

The unavailability of the vaccines has slowed the pace of the roll-out plan and was a major challenge, he added.

“Part of the reason why we came here was to speed up the process of availability of vaccines. We are still in phase 1 of the roll-out plan. Government is not failing. The process won’t happen in one day. It will be a sequential delivery, ” Ramaphosa said.

With experts warning about a looming third wave of Covid-19 infections during the upcoming Easter, Passover and Ramadan services, Ramaphosa said a meeting would be held with the command council on Tuesday to decide if any further lockdown regulations should be imposed.

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