AVMA: Aspen and the DFIs reaffirm their partnership and their support to vaccine production in Africa

published on 21 June 2024
Multi-country Africa
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At a time when the global health community is gathered in Paris for the launch of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (“AVMA”), which is expected to support and increase African vaccine production, IFC, Proparco - the French Development institution, DEG - the German development finance institution, and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) today reaffirm their commitment to supporting local manufacturing capacities for the development of vaccines for African countries.

In June 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the four development finance institutions provided a joint €600 million long-term financing package to Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited, a leading pharmaceutical company in South Africa.

The financing helped Aspen to refinance existing debt and strengthen its balance sheet, supporting Aspen’s operations including production of vaccines, and other therapies in African and emerging markets.

Aspen played a major role producing COVID-19 treatment therapies and vaccines on the African continent by partnering with Johnson & Johnson to compound, finish, fill and package 225 million doses of the Janssen (a Johnson & Johnson company) COVID-19 vaccine at its sterile facility in Gqeberha, South Africa.

While COVID-19 exposed a chronic lack of shot-making capacity on the African continent, Aspen reinforced its commitment to local vaccine production to manufacture, market and distribute four Aspen-branded routine vaccines essential to pediatric immunization programs in Africa.

By making as much as $1 billion available to support sustainable vaccine manufacturing in Africa over the next 10 years, the AVMA has the potential to further enhance the continent vaccine’s autonomy where 99% of the vaccines administered are currently imported. It will contribute to the target set in 2022 by the African Union for African countries to produce and supply more than 60% of the continent's vaccine requirements by 2040.

AVMA has been designed in close collaboration with African partners, especially Africa CDC, it will be applied to existing GAVI/UNICEF procurement mechanisms and will play a formative role in helping build a high-quality, sustainable manufacturing sector capable of supporting the African Union’s Platform for Harmonized African Health Products Manufacturing (PHAHM) ambition.

Therefore, whilst AVMA is an important step in achieving the continent’s vaccine equality and localization ambition, it should be also seen in complementarity with the future regional pooled procurement mechanism aimed for in Africa and decided by the African Union in February 2024. This is the best way to ensure sustainability of production and the consequent security of supply for Africa, which has been lacking.

In this context, Aspen and the DFI partners continue to work closely to support pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing on the African continent, including supporting the establishment of an enabling policy environment.