Africa’s only COVID-19 vaccine production plant Aspen Pharmacare may have to shut down as no one wants to buy their Johnson & Johnson vaccine too risky to be used in the U.S. because of a dangerous clotting condition called ‘thrombosis’
Sarah Dwyer is an International Foreign Policy Correspondent for Today News Africa based in California. Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from San Jose State University. She focuses on COVID-19 relating to US-Africa ties.
Africa’s only COVID-19 vaccine production plant, Aspen Pharmacare, located in South Africa, may finally have to shut down as no one wants to buy their Johnson &Johnson vaccine which is no longer in use in the United States for people 18 years and older.
The latest blow for the company came from the World Health Organization and its COVID-19 partner Gavi who said they have no immediate plans to buy shots made by them, Reuters news agency reported on Monday.
Aspen finalized a deal to package, sell and distribute Johnson & Johnson vaccine expecting to be met with high demand, as the continent has less than 20% of the population fully vaccinated, according to Africa CDC.
But that optimism did not materialize. Orders did not come as anticipated and now the World Health Organization and Gavi have made it clear they do not intend to purchase doses as of now.
“In the case of Aspen, the current overall demand situation means we are currently not in a position to buy large quantities of vaccines,” a Gavi spokesperson said, according to Reuters.
The Global Vaccine Alliance, Gavi, is a public–private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries.
FDA limits use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States:
Just last Thursday, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in a statement that it was limiting the emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson/Jansen COVID-19 vaccine to people 18 and older. The FDA explained that the change was being made because of the risk of a rare and dangerous clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receiving the vaccine.
“We recognize that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine still has a role in the current pandemic response in the United States and across the global community. Our action reflects our updated analysis of the risk of TTS following administration of this vaccine and limits the use of the vaccine to certain individuals,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Today’s action demonstrates the robustness of our safety surveillance systems and our commitment to ensuring that science and data guide our decisions. We’ve been closely monitoring the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and occurrence of TTS following its administration and have used updated information from our safety surveillance systems to revise the EUA. The agency will continue to monitor the safety of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and all other vaccines, and as has been the case throughout the pandemic, will thoroughly evaluate new safety information.”
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