A consortium of nine development and finance institutions have today, March 1, 2022 announced a partnership with Biovac in Cape Town to support Biovac’s vaccine manufacturing expansion.
The partnership forms part of broader efforts to support South Africa and the African continent increase vaccine manufacturing capacity and reduce reliance on imports.
Biovac, a bio-pharmaceutical company and established vaccine manufacturer based in South Africa, is part of a consortium of organizations that has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and its COVAX partners to establish the first COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa. Biovac also entered into an agreement with Pfizer in July 2021 with the goal to manufacture up to 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use exclusively in Africa.
The consortium partners will aim to support Biovac in its future manufacturing plant capacity and vaccine pipeline expansion. The consortium partners include the African Development Bank (AfDB), CDC Group – UK’s development finance institution which is soon to be renamed British International Investment, and the German development finance institution (DEG).
Others are the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union Delegation to South Africa, International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), and the French development finance institution.
“COVID-19 has proven that a more geographical spread of vaccine manufacturing is much needed globally, with the African continent having the least number of vaccine manufacturers. We are pleased that the consortium of funders is willing to work with Biovac to create sustainable African vaccine manufacturing, not only to respond to the current pandemic, but also to much needed routine vaccines and future pandemic vaccines as well” .Biovac CFO, Craig Mitchell
African Development Bank Group (AfDB) President, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, stated that the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call that Africa could not outsource the health of its people to other continents or rely on global supply chains.
“We have developed a 2030 Pharmaceutical Action Plan/Continental Vision for Africa. We aim to increase the local production of pharmaceuticals to 70% by 2030, and of vaccines to 60% by 2040. Today’s announcement with Biovac is a strong testament to our pledge to make direct investments in manufacturers and provide leadership to support the development of the pharmaceutical industry on our continent. Africa must become self-sufficient. Health security is fundamental to economic security”.Akinwumi A. Adesina
Need to prioritize vaccine delivery to countries
Tenbite Ermias, CDC Group’s Managing Director for Africa, underscored that accelerating vaccine delivery to countries that need them the most must become a global priority, and this requires collective effort.
“CDC is thrilled to be a part of this consortium that brings together DFI expertise and capital to support Biovac in contributing to scaling vaccine production across Africa, and bolster the continent’s response and self-reliance on this and other health crises”.Tenbite Ermias
Roland Siller, CEO of DEG, also highlighted that it is essential to join forces to address medical care in Africa. According to the Siller, “this is why we welcome Biovac’s initiative to expand its vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa. Besides strengthening vaccine production on site, it has a positive signaling effect for South Africa as a medical hub. We are happy to support the development of this project and look forward to strengthening the cooperation”.
“The United States is proud to collaborate on this effort to expand manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 and other critical vaccines in Africa in order to improve healthcare on the continent”, says DFC CEO, Scott Nathan.
According to Scott, supporting the global community’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening health systems in developing countries are top priorities for DFC. The DFC CEO added that this project advances President Biden’s ‘Build Back Better World’ (B3W) Initiative by bolstering global health infrastructure.
Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for development also noted that scaling up vaccine production in South Africa is crucial to accelerating global immunization and beating COVID-19. Fayolle explained that EIB Global is working with African and international partners in supporting vaccine manufacturing, improving public health and enhancing economic resilience to the pandemic across Africa.
“As part of Team Europe, the EIB is pleased to join financial partners to support Biovac’s plans to produce vaccines in South Africa for Africa”, says Ambroise Fayolle.
Biovac aims to expand its vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa initially through its current activities related to the production of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and subsequently for much-needed routine vaccines as well. This will bolster the global response to COVID-19 and advance long-term health security throughout the African continent.
To realize the expansion and increased local vaccine manufacturing capacity on the African continent, Biovac will need to raise around $150 million (ZAR2.3 billion).
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