SA biotech company to manufacture vaccines locally

Vaccine manufacturer Biovac close to concluding deal that will see it producing doses locally.

Cape Town based biotech company Biovac is close to concluding its technology transfer with global pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur. The transfer is for a fully liquid hexavalent vaccine, which is a key vaccine in the national immunisation programme.

Biovac chief executive Dr Morena Makhoana says local production of vaccines will not only improve South Africa’s self-sufficiency when it comes to accessing vaccines, but also enable further capacity building within the region. He said that one of the major benefits to producing vaccines locally is the aspect of security of supply. 

“By developing and manufacturing vaccines on the African continent, we will be able to better meet the local demand and limit overreliance on fully imported vaccines, which we’ve previously experienced. Nurturing local manufacturing capacity is crucial to responding to disease outbreak emergencies. Covid-19 has shown us that it is essential to promote and invest in the regional capacity for the development and production of vaccines in Africa” says Morena.

Biovac was established in 2003 to revive local human vaccine production and is the only vaccine manufacturer in Southern Africa. The company has secured high profile technology transfers from international pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Sanofi Pasteur while developing technologically advanced facilities.

Biovac currently sources and supplies a comprehensive range of paediatric vaccines required for the Department of Health’s Expanded Programme of Immunisation. The company also supplies more than 15 million doses of vaccines per year for South Africa and neighbouring countries.

Morena said developing the expertise and skills associated with local vaccine production is a key focus of Biovac as this will ensure that South Africa has the required capacity to engage in technology and skills transfer to the benefit of the African continent.