South Africa slams J&J over vaccine exports

Photo: AP

Activists and public officials slammed the pharmaceutical conglomerate Johnson and Johnson over exports of Covid-19 vaccines to richer countries. The jabs are being produced in J&J facilities in South Africa but exported to European clients, AP reported. The one-dose J&J vaccines are much needed in Africa as than only 3% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated.

South African activists called for a full disclosure of the government’s contracts with Johnson & Johnson and other vaccine manufacturers and threatened legal action to get the information. They reacted to revelations by The New York Times that millions of J&J doses produced by Aspen Pharmacare in the South African city of Gqeberha are being exported to Europe.

The report also claims the South African government agreed to waive its right to ban exports to make sure that Johnson & Johnson could ship the vaccines abroad. Aspen has a contract with Johnson & Johnson to assemble the ingredients of its Covid-19 vaccine, put it in vials and package it, a process called “fill and finish.” It was the first agreement for Covid-19 vaccines to be finished in Africa and was hailed by the African Union and the South African government as a boost for vaccine production and distribution in the continent. The Aspen factory has the capacity to finish about 220 million J&J doses annually.

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