Blade Nzimande, The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation said government is working to secure a vaccine production contract with ImmunityBio.
Minister Nzimande said the Biovac Institute is a one of a kind facility in the African continent, in terms of its capacity.
“It started way back in 2003 just doing packaging. Vaccines would be imported here, finished and just packaged, but it has been moving up the value chain.
“What it is doing now is actually filling and finishing. But the plan is to move even higher up the value chain so that we are able to produce, invest... in our own research and development so that we can produce and manufacture our own vaccines, hopefully starting with COVID-19 but also in developing other vaccines.”
The Minister is hopeful that signing a contract with Biovac will be good for research and development.
"From the standpoint of the President’s campaign for more investment in South Africa, but much more importantly, that we begin to make a big difference in terms of taking this facility to higher levels to be able to move up the value chain to produce much more vaccines than we are doing right now.”
Deputy President David Mabuza recently paid a visit to the Biovac Institute in Cape Town and spoke about the progress made during his visit.
“We are expecting that by the end of next month, we will be signing a contract with a company called ImmunityBio, which is owned by an ex-South African,” said the Deputy President.
There are currently clinical trials in progress for the ImmunityBio Covid-19 vaccine. The trials are taking place in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, in an attempt to produce the vaccine locally.
Some steps have already been taken, as some vaccines have already been formulated and put into vials.
“The only missing link that we must work on is to manufacture the mix itself. We want to produce our own vaccines here. Yes, we are producing but we are just doing the formulation and the filling. We want to do the last step now.”