Government working to improve capability to produce COVID-19 vaccines: Mabuza

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Deputy President David Mabuza says government is working on improving South Africa’s capability to produce coronavirus vaccines. He was visiting the Biovac Institute in Midrand, Johannesburg, where the coronavirus vaccines are being kept.

The visit follows a decision by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19 vaccines, which Mabuza chairs, to visit various sites established for the purposes of the vaccine rollout.

Speaking to reporters outside the facility, Mabuza says Biovac will focus on ensuring that the country has the required domestic capacity to respond to vaccine needs.

The J & J vaccine that we are administering now we store it here, from here we distribute it to the various centres. The cold chain can be broken for some days that won’t alter the quality of the vaccine but it cannot go beyond certain days.  So this is the capability that we have as a country which cabinet made a decision to improve this capability for us to manufacture our own vaccines. “

Following a walkabout at the centre, Mabuza explained the process of how the vaccines are stored and then distributed.

“We do currently manufacture vaccines, almost 80%, we manufacture in Cape Town, then we distribute. But we want to increase this capacity so that as a country we can have that capability. We are not going to need another storage facility, everything that will come will be stored here, from here right to the vaccination sites.

Deputy President David Mabuza said he will visit a vaccination centre and get vaccinated: 

Meanwhile, acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says government has not put out a tender for the transportation of the COVID-19 vaccines from the airport to the storage and vaccination centres.

Ntshavheni was also among those who visited the centre. Speaking to journalists after the tour of the facility, Ntshavheni said the Biovac Institute has been responsible for the transportation.

“The logistics of storing and distributing the vaccines in the country is left to Biovac, so we are using the Biovac processes that have always been in place. If it’s the contracts, it’s the contracts that have always been in place, so we are currently in the hands of Biovac fully.”