Aspen reassures Ramaphosa it is ramping up production of J&J COVID-19 vaccine

On Sunday, Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would pull two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following contamination concerns at one of the company's sites in the United States.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at a media briefing on 3 June 2021. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa said that he had been assured by Aspen Pharmaceuticals that it would beef up its capacity to start working on a new batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines this week.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would pull two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following contamination concerns at one of the company's sites in the United States. Ramaphosa was speaking during the closing of the G7 meeting in the United Kingdom.

South Africa is struggling to roll out its inoculation programme and is in the grips of a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic with increased infections and fatalities.

Ramaphosa said that he had discussions with US President Joe Biden about donating vaccines to the continent.

"And in my discussions with President Biden, we did say to him that we would like doses that he's going to donate also to be channeled to Africa, also to be channeled to South Africa," he said.

President Ramaphosa said that G7 member countries had committed to end COVID-19 and to avail funds to fight the deadly virus.

Ramaphosa was speaking after the conclusion of the G7 meeting in Cornwall in the United Kingdom on Sunday.

The G7 leaders met over the weekend to discuss a range of issues, including climate change, COVID-19 and the state of the global economy.

President Ramaphosa said that they had meaningful engagements and the leaders wanted to end COVID-19.

"They are in a war situation against COVID-19 and we must therefore use every means we can to defeat this pandemic," the president said.

With some parts of the world grappling with a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Ramaphosa said that poorer countries should also get all their citizens vaccinated, with the help of rich nations.

"All of us around the world need to be vaccinated and when we are vaccinated, we will have a better defence."

President Ramaphosa was the only African leader invited as a guest to the G7 meeting.

The organisation of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies, consists of the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Japan.

At the same time, the UK has pledged over a billion doses to the world poorest nations, seen as a big step towards the global immunisation campaign.

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