South Africa’s vaccine manufacturer, The Biovac Institute is to produce Sanofi’s hexavalent vaccine locally from next year and Pfizer’s pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Prevnar 13 from 2021.

Biovac is a public-private partnership which is 47.5% government owned. Its CEO, Morena Makhoana, said the expansion of its local productions will boost the supply of life-saving drugs not only to South Africa but to the whole of the continent.

Biovac signed a five-year agreement with Pfizer in 2015 to only package labelled syringes while the pharmaceutical company transferred its formulation and filling manufacturing technology to enable production at Biovac’s manufacturing facility in Cape Town, in compliance with the applicable Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards.

According to Makhoana, production of the hexavalent vaccine will start in the third quarter of next year at the Cape Town plant. He said four million doses of the vaccine will be produced per year at the facility and that capacity will be further ramped up as Biovac explores new markets in neighbouring countries.

Makhoana told Reuters that Biovac is the only tech transfer partner with Sanofi in the world.  The six-in-one shot protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus B, and hepatitis B and is the only one in the world that is fully liquid  and doesn’t require mixing before injecting, making it easier to administer in remote and resource-poor clinics across Africa.

Sanofi said it will continue to invest in South Africa’s vaccine programme as it looks to bolster its position.

“South Africa, and Africa for that matter, is an emerging market, showing strong growth year-on-year and hence will remain a priority for Sanofi,” Merilynn Matthew, who heads Sanofi’s South African vaccines unit, told Reuters.

Biovac currently produces around 25 million doses of vaccines for among others cervical cancer (HPV vaccine) and TB.

Source: Reuters