This is a core vaccine in the national immunisation programme, with roll-out of local manufacturing on the cards in the coming months.
“Local production of vaccines will not only improve our self-sufficiency when it comes to accessing vaccines, but also enable further capacity building within Southern Africa,” says Biovac CEO, Dr Morena Makhoana.
He added, “The local manufacturing of vaccines will strengthen our position in responding to local and regional diseases and prepare us for future pandemic readiness”.
One of the major benefits to locally produced vaccines 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,” said Makhoana.
To combat the high barrier-to-entry industry, Biovac adopted a reverse integration strategy to their value chain. This approach has been successfully used in developing countries including Brazil and Russia.
“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,” said Makhoana.
Biovac was established in 2003 to revive local human vaccine production and is the only vaccine manufacturer in Southern Africa.
Alongside the development of modern facilities, the company has secured high profile technology transfers from international pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Sanofi Pasteur.
Biovac currently sources and supplies a comprehensive range of paediatric vaccines required for the Department of Health’s Expanded Programme of Immunisation as well as supplying over 15-million doses of vaccines per year, across South Africa and into neighbouring countries.
“One of our key focus areas is to develop the expertise and skills associated with local vaccine production. This will ensure South Africa has the required biotechnology skills and ability to engage in technology and skills transfer to the benefit of the African continent,” concluded Makhoana.