The Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel today welcomed the discussions between South African-based pharmaceutical company, Aspen and United States of America-based J&J on discussions on a licensing agreement for Covid-19 vaccines.

The announcement was contained in the company’s SENS announcement last night.

Aspen currently produces vaccines on contract to J&J on a ‘fill and finish’ basis. The successful conclusion of a licensing agreement would provide Aspen the ability to directly service the local and continental market.

Government has called on large global pharmaceutical companies to collaborate with African-based firms to develop capabilities to produce and distribute vaccines and other critical healthcare products in the continent.

South Africa together with India initiated discussions in October last year at the World Trade Organisation on a waiver of certain intellectual property provisions of a global agreement. The proposal subsequently garnered the support of more than 100 countries.

Should the licensing agreement be concluded successfully between Aspen and J&J, the next step in building industrial capability in vaccine manufacturing would be to locally manufacture the drug substance used in the formulation of the vaccine.

 This would assist in creating an African capability, reduce vulnerabilities to supply-chain shocks and enable South Africa and neighbouring countries to rapidly roll out vaccines, including potentially booster vaccinations when warranted based on scientific evidence.


Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
Tel: (012) 394 1643
Mobile: 079 508 3457
WhatsApp: 074 299 8512
Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
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