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Providing Uniform Vaccine Access to Africans and Equitable Pricing

Vaccine-short Africa is hopeful of getting more COVID-19 doses, as a South African pharmaceutical firm is close to being the first in Africa to distribute them for sale across the continent. U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson says it could soon grant a license to Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s biggest drugmaker, to produce an “African COVID-19 vaccine” called Aspenovax. Aspen Pharmacare will not make its own vaccine but will package and sell the Johnson-produced vaccine as soon as early 2022. The company has a factory in South Africa from where it already distributes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine nationwide. The proposed deal will significantly boost supplies in Africa, which has suffered serious shortages of vaccines, and is facing the spread of the new omicron variant. The World Health Organization said only 3% of Africans are fully vaccinated. Strive Masiyiwa, head of the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, said the deal will make African nations less dependent on Western governments for vaccine supplies.