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Daily Maverick coverage. Covid-19: What local vaccine production means

Aspen Pharmacare will not produce Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine itself in South Africa. Instead, Aspen will be one of six sites globally responsible for putting the vaccine into vials and packing the jabs for distribution, Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer, Paul Stoffels, confirmed late on Tuesday.

Vaccines go through several different stages from the time they are formulated until they reach clinic shelves. The most complicated phases involve actually creating the vaccine solution. The last and final stage, in which prepared vaccines are filled into vials and packaged for delivery, is often called “fill and finish”.

No plant in South Africa has produced a vaccine itself in 25 years, Biovac Institute CEO, Dr Morena Makhoana says. Biovac is a public-private partnership created in 2003 to revive vaccine production in South Africa after the country stopped producing vaccines locally in the 1990s.

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