Johnson & Johnson Strikes COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing Deal With South Africa's Aspen

Durban-based Aspen Pharmacare Holdings APNHY has preliminary agreed to commercially manufacture Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson's JNJ COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2-S, the company said in a statement.

What Happened: According to Bloomberg, Aspen Pharmacare is Africa's biggest drugmaker and can produce 300 million doses a year.

Aspen has agreed to commercially manufacture Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine candidate at its Port Elizabeth plant, in which the company has invested $184 million.

Aspen will perform formulation, filling, and secondary packaging of the vaccine.

Why It Matters: South Africa has recorded 726,000 coronavirus infections, and it is hosting at least four clinical trials of potential COVID-19 vaccines, including the J&J candidate, reports Reuters.

J&J had resumed the pivotal Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial on Oct. 23 in the U.S. after a temporary pause. The trial was to test the safety and efficacy in adults aged between 18 and 60 years.

According to Reuters, the company plans to test its vaccine in children aged between 12 and 18, subject to regulations soon.

Rival drugmaker Pfizer Inc PFE has already begun testing the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine in children as young as 12 years. 

J&J uses a cold virus to deliver coronavirus genetic material to spur an immune response. The company used the AdVac platform in Ebola vaccines as well.

Price Action: J&J shares closed lower by 0.06% to $137.11 on Friday. Aspen Pharmacre shares have jumped 7.4% in Johannesburg on last check Monday. 

Posted In: BloombergCovid-19ReutersvaccineBiotechNewsFDAGlobalTop StoriesMediaGeneral

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