Opportunities can be created in local vaccine manufacturing: Mabuza

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Deputy President David Mabuza says rebuilding skills required for the 21st century requires South Africa and the African continent to leverage on opportunities that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.

He says opportunities can be created in the local manufacturing of vaccines.

Mabuza says South Africa is already seeking to maximise opportunities for collaboration with partners in research and development in the region and in BRICS countries.

He was addressing the Human Resource Development Council Summit in Midrand, north of Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“This will expand existing capacity for vaccine development and manufacturing, thereby benefiting our country and the continent, which currently has the least access to COVID-19 vaccines. Already, this initiative is bearing fruits as the country hosts the first vaccine technology transfer hub that will immensely contribute in overcoming the current COVID-19 pandemic and respond to future health emergencies,” says Mabuza.

Demand for vaccine production in Africa 

Last month, the African Union called for global pharmaceutical firms to license the production of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa rather than just do piecemeal contract deals.

This came after Pfizer and BioNTech announced a “fill and finish” deal with South Africa’s Biovac Institute under which it will carry out the final stages of vaccine manufacturing where the product is processed and put into vials.

Pfizer and BioNTech will handle drug substance production at their facilities in Europe. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called the arrangement “restrictive” and said much more is needed to support vaccine independence in Africa.

Many African nations rely on the global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX or donations from countries like China and India.

Matshidiso Moeti, the head of the World Health Organisation in Africa, called for local production of vaccines so Africa can tackle future outbreaks.

In the report below, Pfizer vaccines to be manufactured in SA: 

-Additional reporting by Reuters