The vaccine, called Aspenovax, will be manufactured from drug substance supplied by J&J and sold to public sector markets in Africa.
Noting that Africa’s response to the pandemic had been hampered by vaccine inequality as rich countries cornered much of the vaccine supply as it became available, Aspen group chief executive Dr Stephen Saad said the licensing deal was “a game-changer”.
“[It] gives you independence and speed of access to intellectual property,” he said, adding Aspen would gain the autonomy of releasing the vaccine and determining where it goes.
It would also partly resolve intellectual property (IP) issues which have been widely seen as a stumbling block to making vaccines available to poorer countries.
“We’ve seen a lot of issues around IP and IP waivers and this obviates a lot of those hurdles relating to IP,” he said.
“Because it’s a tech transfer, it’s a more efficient process for early entry.”
Saad would not comment on pricing, except to say Aspen intended to be competitive.
The deal also paved the way for major vaccine buyers such as the Gavi Alliance, formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, to buy vaccines from Africa, Masiyiwa said.
“Unless people like Gavi step forward and begin to talk to African industrialists like Aspen to produce vaccine, we will not deal with the problem Africa found itself in, which was to be pushed to the back of the queue.”