A new factory that is expected to produce a billion doses of vaccines annually by 2025 has been launched in Cape Town.
It is the initiative of American-based South African Scientist and entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong.
The R3 billion campus in Brackenfell will enable South Africa to produce the first batch of second-generation COVID-19 vaccines within a year.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Soon-Shiong launched the new campus as well as the Coalition to Accelerate Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare (AAAH) coalition.
The factory will be the first in Africa to produce end-to-end second-generation vaccines.
Ramaphosa emphasised, that government, as the AU champion for COVID-19, would like to make sure that the vaccine production benefits the entire continent.
“I’m rather pleased that he is not only going to set up this facility in his own home country, but he is going to expand. He is going to go to Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. We are Pan-African. We are Pan Africanist in our approach,” adds Ramaphosa.
The President also thanked Soon-Shiong for an additional R100 million in funding that the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation has given to support the education and training of a skilled workforce in the biotechnology and life sciences industry.
He says these scholarships will significantly assist in building capacity across Africa and establish a legacy of excellence and innovation in science for decades to come.
“Our continent stands ready to enter a new age of medical science. It stands ready to take responsibility for the health of its people, to understand better the diseases that afflict them, and to develop the means to manage these diseases.”
The US biotech billionaire says while they are going to manufacture second-generation COVID-19 vaccines, the first-generation vaccines are still very important for people to take.
He says they are necessary to prevent death.
“I want to make sure that people understand that you need to be vaccinated. Unfortunately, two things happen. The antibodies wane and the viruses mutate and you get yourself into a spiral. Which then opens the space for a second-generation vaccine. So the first-generation vaccine was absolutely not a waste of time. However, we needed to react in parallel with the second-generation vaccine to stop the transmission,” he explains.
NantSA vaccine manufacturing campus launch discussion: