Aspen Pharmacare is set to receive a long-term funding package of nearly $713m (€600m) to boost the production of Coivd-19 vaccines for countries in the African continent.

The funds are provided by the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), the French Development institution, Proparco, German development finance institution, DEG, and the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

The package will aid Aspen to expand its capacity to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines with stringent regulatory authorization (SRA) and/or World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing such as the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

The Covid-19 vaccines are mainly intended to be supplied to the African Union, South African Government and COVAX.

Led by IFC, the financial package is subject to meeting necessary conditions.

The package will comprise €200m from IFC and €144m from DEG while Proparco will contribute €156m and DFC will provide €100m.

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Aspen will use the funds to refinance current debt and boost its balance sheet. It will also support operations such as manufacturing vaccines and other treatments in African and emerging markets.

Through collaboration with Aspen, the four finance institutions also intend to boost vaccine production expertise and knowledge sharing in Africa.

In November last year, Aspen partnered with Johnson & Johnson to carry out the compounding, finishing, filling and packaging of the latter’s Covid-19 vaccine at its sterile site in South Africa.

Furthermore, Aspen established a certified sterile injectables plant at its current site at Gqeberha, South Africa.

Aspen group chief executive Stephen Saad said: “Aspen’s teams are working tirelessly to optimise production of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for Africa at our manufacturing site in Gqeberha, South Africa.

“Aspen is seeking to play a meaningful role in contributing to the objective of delivering the majority of Africa’s needs from production sites located in Africa.”

In April, the African Union and Africa CDC announced plans to produce 60% of the routine immunisation requirements for the continent by 2040.

At present, Africa produces nearly 1% of the vaccines used by the continent.