A new Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufacturing plant in Cape Town will enable Africa to access vaccines without having to compete with rich countries.
The Nant-SA Vaccine Manufacturing Campus in the Western Cape is owned by South African-born businessman Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong.
The plant will produce COVID-19 vaccines and will also make medicine for the treatment of cancer, TB and HIV.
“We now have the capability to use the human capital of South Africans to build 21st-century medicine.
“The construction of the campus is already complete. We are now working with the regulatory bodies. Within six months to a year, we will have the first vaccines rolled out,” said Dr Soon-Shiong at the recent launch.
The facility will also focus on the development of a second generation COVID-19 vaccine, with the aim to produce one billion doses a year by 2025.
“We want to manufacture this in Africa, for Africa, and export it to the world,” explained Dr Soon-Shiong.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the state-of-the-art campus is part of a far broader initiative to propel Africa into a new era of health science.
Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare Coalition was also launched at the opening of the campus. The coalition will bring together biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, non-profit organisations and academia, who will collaborate to improve local pharmaceutical and vaccine production.
This will help make South Africa less reliant on other countries for medical imports.
“The pandemic has revealed the huge disparities that exist within and between countries in access to quality healthcare, medicines, diagnostics and vaccines.
“At the same time, the pandemic has revealed the depth of scientific knowledge, expertise and capacity on our continent. It has shown what we are capable of when we work together to mobilise all our resources to confront a common challenge,” said President Ramaphosa
According to Dr Soon-Shiong, the production of the vaccines will be done by a team of between 400 and 600 South Africans.
In addition to investing in the manufacturing plant, Dr Soon-Shiong is donating R100-million through the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation, to help fund the education and training of a skilled workforce in the biotechnology and life sciences industry.