Biovac and Development Partners to Support Vaccine Manufacturing Expansion in South Africa

A consortium of nine development partners will support Biovac's expansion of its existing vaccine manufacturing plant capacity, while Biovac itself aims to raise funds to boost increased vaccine manufacturing capacity across Africa.

On March 1, 2022, a consortium of nine development and finance institutions announced that a partnership has been formed with Biovac, a South African bio/pharmaceutical company, to support Biovac's vaccine manufacturing expansion. Biovac also aims to raise approximately $150 million to expand and increase local vaccine manufacturing capacity for the whole of Africa.

Biovac aims to expand its vaccine manufacturing capacity initially through current activities related to the production of Pfizer–BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine and, subsequently, for much needed routine vaccines as well. The company expects that this expansion will bolster the global response to COVID-19 and advance long-term health security throughout Africa.

The consortium partners aim to support Biovac in future manufacturing plant capacity and vaccine pipeline expansion. The consortium includes the African Development Bank, CDC Group—the United Kingdom's development finance institution, which will soon be renamed to British International Investment, the German development finance institution DEG, the US International Development Finance Corporation, European Investment Bank, the European Union Delegation to South Africa, International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, and Proparco, the development finance institution of France.

Biovac is itself a part of a consortium of organizations that has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and COVAX partners (a group co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, and WHO) to establish the first COVID-19 messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology transfer hub in South Africa. Biovac also entered into an agreement with Pfizer in July 2021 to manufacture up to 100 million doses of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in Africa, exclusively.

"COVID-19 has proven that a more geographical spread of vaccine manufacturing is much needed globally, with the African continent having the least number of vaccine manufacturers. We are pleased that the consortium of funders is willing to work with Biovac to create sustainable African vaccine manufacturing, not only to respond to the current pandemic, but also to much needed routine vaccines and future pandemic vaccines as well," said Craig Mitchell, chief financial officer, Biovac, in a company press release.

"This unique partnership will help boost the production and manufacturing capacity of a range of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, in Africa. With strong partnerships and increased investment, manufacturers in Africa, such as Biovac, can ramp up domestic vaccine production to build a more resilient health sector and strengthen regional value chains," said Makhtar Diop, IFC managing director, in the press release.

Source: International Finance Corporation