South Africa's Aspen gets $30 million grant to make vaccines

People wearing face masks walk past a logo of South African pharmaceutical major Aspen Pharmacare in Gqeberha

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Aspen Pharmacare has wrapped up pacts to secure funding of $30 million from the Gates Foundation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to help make affordable vaccines for Africa, the company said on Monday.

In August, Aspen announced a deal with the Serum Institute of India to make and sell four Aspen-branded vaccines for Africa, as it looks to use its near-idle COVID-19 vaccine production lines in South Africa.

It had been negotiating with the two organizations for grant funding.

"The new funding from CEPI and the Gates Foundation will support a ten-year agreement between Aspen and Serum Institute that aims to expand the supply and sourcing of affordable vaccines manufactured in Africa," the company said.

Each of the two will contribute $15 million.

The Serum Institute agreement provides for Aspen to make and distribute pneumococcal, rotavirus, polyvalent meningococcal and hexavalent vaccines commonly administered in Africa.

It gives Aspen certainty on volumes, which will eventually more than cover an expected fall in revenue from its COVID vaccine contract with Johnson & Johnson, Chief Executive Stephen Saad said in August.

On Monday, Aspen said the funding, in addition to supporting the "technology transfer activities" set to begin early in 2023, will help sustain its regional vaccine making capacity against future outbreaks.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Louise Heavens and Clarence Fernandez)