In a joint project, Siemens South Africa, Aspen SA Operations (Pty) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited and Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) have entered into an agreement to enable the use of digital technologies to enhance the efficiency of COVID vaccine production on the African continent, through Aspen’s Gqeberha-based manufacturing facility.
The project will strengthen the global competitiveness of the South African pharmaceutical industry and improve the continent’s resilience against other diseases and future pandemics.
Against this background, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has commissioned DEG to finance the establishment of home-grown vaccine manufacturing capacities. South Africa is the most advanced pharmaceutical market on the continent with Aspen being Africa’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Aspen is in the process of licensing the rights for the first African COVID vaccines, which it will launch as Aspenovax during the early parts of quarter 2. Aspenovax will provide Africa its own COVID vaccine, produced on the African continent by Aspen for African patients. The production of Aspenovax, and consequently the continent, stands to benefit from the joint Siemens-Aspen project.
This will include a suite of Siemens digital technologies to enhance the current manufacturing processes at Aspen and provide enhanced production execution, energy efficiency, product tracking, central management of the entire production network and introduce additional energy monitoring devices, flow instruments and temperature sensors.
A key aspect of this project will also include training and development of skills for the effective maintenance of Aspen’s production facility in Gqeberha, in the Eastern Cape.
“Africa has remained vaccine constrained, importing some 99% of its vaccine requirements and the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the continent’s inequitable access to vaccines globally. Aspen has manufactured over 100 million doses of the Janssen COVID-vaccine and, in November 2021, we secured a non-binding agreement to manufacture and sell Aspenovax, Aspen’s own brand of the vaccine in Africa thereby providing a COVID-19 vaccine made in Africa for Africa,” Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive said. ■