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Siemens Collaborates Aspen To Enhance Vaccine Production For Africa

A strategic partnership that will enable Aspen Pharmacare to increase production capacity to meet the rising demands for COVID-19 vaccines in Africa. Co-financed by funds from the develoPPP programme of the German Government, digital technologies will enable faster and more efficient production while ensuring consistent product quality.

In a joint project, Siemens South Africa, Aspen SA Operations (Pty) Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited (collectively “Aspen”) and Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) have entered into an agreement to enable the use of digital technologies to enhance the efficiency of COVID vaccine production on the African continent, through Aspen’s Gqeberha-based manufacturing facility.

The project will strengthen the global competitiveness of the South African pharmaceutical industry and improve the continent’s resilience against other diseases and future pandemics. Against this background, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has commissioned DEG to finance the establishment of home-grown vaccine manufacturing capacities. South Africa is the most advanced pharmaceutical market on the continent with Aspen being Africa’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Aspen is in the process of licensing the rights for the first African COVID vaccines, which it will launch as Aspenovax during the early parts of quarter 2. Aspenovax will provide Africa with its own COVID vaccine, produced on the African continent by Aspen for African patients. The production of Aspenovax, and consequently the continent, stands to benefit from the joint Siemens-Aspen project.

This will include a suite of Siemens digital technologies to enhance the current manufacturing processes at Aspen and provide enhanced production execution, energy efficiency, product tracking, central management of the entire production network and introduce additional energy monitoring devices, flow instruments and temperature sensors. A key aspect of this project will also include training and development of skills for the effective maintenance of Aspen’s production facility in Gqeberha, in the Eastern Cape.

Sabine Dall’Omo, Chief Executive Officer for Siemens Southern & Eastern Africa explains, ‘With our innovative Digital Twin simulation, the production environment will be kept up to date to be leveraged in determining the impact of strategic improvement initiatives. The full scope of supply is aimed at improving efficiency, thereby reducing wastage of valuable vaccine doses while introducing energy management to minimize carbon emissions. We are proud to collaborate with Aspen and DEG in South Africa, thereby supporting the pharmaceutical industry to intensify the production of vaccines globally. This partnership between Aspen, DEG and Siemens clearly demonstrate how our digital technologies can benefit society. Ultimately, our collaboration will accelerate the development of vaccines thereby reducing time to market, while maintaining quality as we try to win the race against time to save lives.”

Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive said, “We are pleased to be able to partner with Siemens for additional digital technologies that will further complement our existing high-technology, state-of-the-art pharmaceutical equipment and systems used to manufacture advanced sterile medicines, including vaccines for the continent. Aspen has invested in excess of R3.0 billion at our Gqeberha-based flagship sterile manufacturing site in the Eastern Cape, the single largest investment in the pharmaceutical industry in South Africa.”

“Africa has remained vaccine constrained, importing some 99% of its vaccine requirements and the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the continent’s inequitable access to vaccines globally. Aspen has manufactured over 100 million doses of the Janssen COVID-vaccine and, in November 2021, we secured a non-binding agreement to manufacture and sell Aspenovax, Aspen’s own brand of the vaccine in Africa thereby providing a COVID-19 vaccine made in Africa for Africa,” added Saad.

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