Biovac begins local manufacturing of paediatric vaccine

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Cape Town-based biotech company, Biovac, has begun local manufacturing of a six-in-one paediatric vaccine.

The fully liquid vaccine seeks to prevent six childhood diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus and hepatitis B.

The vaccine, hexaxim, has been imported and distributed in South Africa since 2015.

Biovac will now be manufacturing four-million units of the vaccine locally per year.

Biovac CEO Dr Morena Makhoana says manufacturing the vaccine locally will boost the economy.

“Biovac at the moment employs just over 320 people, higher biotech skills and essentially the benefit that happens in the local economy is quite huge. We are producing a product that’s quite important for our geography in terms of the disease burden that’s been shown and it’s been trialled in South Africa and we know the positive impact,” says Mokoena.

Higher Education and Technology Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, says the local manufacturing of the vaccine will save South Africa R350 million.

Nzimande was speaking during a virtual briefing on the commencement of local production.

“The local production of Hexaxim is the first vaccine that will be manufactured in South Africa under this programme of expanded production of vaccines and is a strong indication of the technical abilities of South African scientists. It will also contribute to a reduction in the balance of payment as an estimated R350 million per annum will be retained in South Africa,” says Nzimande.

The vaccine has been distributed through the Department of Health’s Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) since 2015, and over five million infants have received the vaccine to date.