Manufacturing of J&J shots will be geared up after loss of 2m contaminated vaccines: Ramaphosa

President also pleased with commitments made at G7

13 June 2021 - 19:16 By nonkululeko njilo
US president Joe Biden talks with SA president Cyril Ramaphosa at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, on June 12 2021. Ramaphosa has urged G7 leaders to help “address the substantial financing gap” for testing, treatment and vaccination against Covid-19.
US president Joe Biden talks with SA president Cyril Ramaphosa at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, on June 12 2021. Ramaphosa has urged G7 leaders to help “address the substantial financing gap” for testing, treatment and vaccination against Covid-19.
Image: Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is confident the annual G7 summit will yield positive results and afford many countries the financial muscles they need to deal with the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He made the remarks on Sunday in the UK where he addressed members of the media after the summit.    

“We are pleased to say that the G7 countries have committed quite a lot of support and assistance in the form of making vaccines available and in some cases, allowing exports to go into African countries and indeed other parts of the world,” he said. 

Among other issues, he urged leaders to address the substantial financing gap for testing, treatment and vaccination against Covid-19.  

This as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has repeatedly urged wealthy countries to tackle the imbalance. 

“What we got here is a commitment that yes, negotiations should ensue at the WTO, we are rather pleased with this. We think there's been progress in the form of enabling negotiations to happen,” he said. 

He said the leaders had also committed financial support to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, a global collaboration to ensure equal access to vaccine, which would enable various countries with resources to produce their own vaccines and be self-reliant. 

SA's vaccine rollout

Ramaphosa said he earlier spoke to the CEO of Aspen, the manufacturers of Johnson and Johnson jabs. This after a US ruling said ingredients for the country’s doses may have been contaminated during production in a plant in Baltimore. 

As a result, the 2 million doses needed to be disposed of and they have to “start all over again” to manufacture another batch.

This was yet another blow for the country's vaccination programme which will incur further delays. 

“I spoke to the CEO of Aspen earlier, he said they are going to start all over again, with another batch, they should be able to gear up their manufacturing capacity as you well know, we have all stored our vaccination's programme's hope on J&J  because it’s a one-dose vaccine.”  

Despite the sentiments, Ramaphosa said he received assurance that manufacturing of the vaccines would commence soon. 

“The CEO of Aspen told me that by the middle of the week, they will have started manufacturing quite a number of vaccines which will be made available not only for SA, but also for the African continent.”

Ramaphosa on Saturday met with US President Joe Biden who indicated he would donate vaccines.

“In my discussion with Biden we did say to him, that we would like the doses that he is going to donate to be channelled to Africa and South Africa, and he agreed to do precisely that as soon as possible, so we should be able to get some doses to that end, we will be able to get doses also from Europe.” 

He was confident that the country's rollout programme was going to “receive a great boost” once the mentioned vaccines arrived in SA.

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