South Africa Urges Africa’s First COVID-19 Vaccine Plant to Keep Its Doors Open
VOA News｜COVID-19 PANDEMIC
May 04, 2022 9:30 AM (source)
South Africa Urges Africa's First COVID-19 Vaccine Plant to Keep Its Doors Open
May 04, 2022 9:30 AM
VOA News 搶先看
南非衛生官員正敦促 COVID-19 疫苗製造商阿斯彭公司（Aspen）在東開普省（the Eastern Cape province）繼續營業，但該公司可能會因為沒有疫苗訂單而被迫關廠。該疫苗是阿斯彭公司在南非的子公司，3 月時與美國強生公司（Johnson & Johnson）達成協議，在非洲包裝、定價、銷售和分銷其疫苗，並重新命名為 Aspenovax，之後卻一直未有訂單。南非國家衛生部發言人莫海爾（Foster Mohale）表示，缺乏訂單的原因是非洲疫苗接種率普遍很低。雖然南非目前有足夠的疫苗，但都即將過期，加上一旦冬天到來感染人數又會攀升，所以阿斯彭疫苗廠很重要。佩特羅．特布蘭琪（Petro Terblanche）教授是南非公司 Afrigen 的總經理，該公司在非洲大陸首次利用 Moderna 的資料製成了 mRNA 新冠疫苗。她非常同情阿斯彭公司的狀況，並呼籲政府應改革政策並加強宣導疫苗接種。
South African health officials are urging COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Aspen to keep its plant in the Eastern Cape province open. This follows a Reuters article quoting Aspen's senior director saying they may have to shut down as there have been no orders for their rebranded COVID vaccine.
A South African-owned subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Aspen struck a deal with American company Johnson & Johnson in March to package, price, sell and distribute its vaccine in Africa.
This vaccine was rebranded as Aspenovax.
The move was hailed by many as there had been much concern about Africa's reliance on imported vaccines which were often costly and at times in short supply.
But there have been no orders for Aspenovax. South Africa's National Health Department Spokesperson Foster Mohale said the lack of orders is due to low vaccination rates not only at home, but globally.
"Vaccine hesitancy is one of the factors which contribute to these low vaccination rates or demand for more vaccines which also affect the production. Because obviously we understand that they are in a business, they can't keep on producing vaccines when they know that the demand for vaccines is very low. So, we understand the situation where they are, and we sympathize with them," he said.
Mohale said for now, South Africa has enough vaccines. He adds that in March, 100,000 vaccines expired. And more are due to expire in June and July.
However, he said that Aspen's vaccine plant is important because no one knows what the future holds.
"We will try to engage them not to rush their decision precisely because we anticipate especially our scientists, our epidemiologists, we anticipate that the fifth wave might hit the country, South Africa, during the winter season which is a few weeks away from now. As you can see the number of daily COVID-19 patients has been rising for the past seven days," he said.
Professor Petro Terblanche, who is the managing director of South African company, Afrigen, which in a continent-first made an mRNA COVID vaccine using Moderna's data — said the situation at Aspen is a tragedy for the industry.
"This is just indicating again how important it is that this continent looks at policy reform. This is about how are we going to make sure that we give preferential procurement to local companies. How are we going to make sure that we create a marketplace and eco-system that will absorb local capacity? Otherwise, we will not have capacity locally in a sustainable manner and we're going to get the next pandemic and we will be unprepared, and we will not have health security," said Terblanche.
She believes money should also be put into educating people on the importance of vaccines.
"We need to ensure that we also put effort into advocacy for vaccination. Because we now have 17% of the continent that is vaccinated. We need to get them to at least 40% to ensure that we fully arrest this pandemic," she said.
Mohale was unable to say when the Health Department would be meeting with Aspen's executives.
註 1：hail 於本文為動詞，意指讚揚
註 2：hesitancy 於本文為名詞，意指猶豫不決
註 3：preferential 於本文為形容詞，意指優惠的、特殊待遇的
註 4：procurement 於本文為名詞，意指採購
註 5：advocacy 於本文為名詞，意指主張、提倡
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Check your comprehension!
Choose the BEST answer to each of the questions below. After you finish, highlight the parentheses to reveal the hidden answers.
1. ( B ) According to the article, which is NOT one of the reasons why vaccination rate is low in Africa?
(A) Vaccines are expensive.
(B) People don't like domestic vaccines.
(C) Vaccines are in short supply.
(D) Vaccines have to be imported.
2. ( C ) The word "reliance" in paragraph 4 is closest in meaning to:
3. ( C ) According to the article, which of the following statements is TRUE?
(A) Afrigen is the company that manufactured Aspenovax.
(B) Aspen got its COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna.
(C) The vaccine made by Afrigen is the first mRNA vaccine developed in Africa.
(D) Most people on the African continent have been vaccinated.