Siemens partners Aspen to ramp up Aspenovax vaccine production for Africa

Siemens partners Aspen to ramp up vaccine production for Africa
  • Aspen has invested in excess of R3.0 billion at its flagship sterile manufacturing site in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape
  • Siemens will provide a suite of digital technologies to enhance the current manufacturing processes at Aspen

Siemens South Africa and drugs manufacturer Aspen Pharmacare have entered into a joint venture to enable the use of digital technologies to enhance the Aspenovax COVID-19 vaccine production on the African continent, through Aspen’s Gqeberha-based manufacturing facility.

South Africa is the most advanced pharmaceutical market on the continent with Aspen being Africa’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturer.

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.

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 Q2. Aspenovax will provide Africa its own COVID vaccine, produced on the African continent by Aspen for African patients.

With the production of Aspenovax, 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 the efficiency, thereby reducing wastage of valuable vaccine doses while introducing energy management to minimize carbon emissions.”

“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.”

Also commenting, 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,” concludes Saad.