Nzimande congratulates Biovac on Pfizer-BioNTech distribution appointment

Friday, July 23, 2021

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, has congratulated Biovac for being appointed as manufacturer of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for distribution within the African Union.

The announcement, which was made on Wednesday, makes Biovac the first company in Africa to produce an mRNA-based vaccine.

Biovac was set to immediately commence technical transfer activities, which included on-site development and equipment installation activities. 

“As you may be aware, the DSI holds, on behalf of government, 47.5% shareholding in Biovac. Our primary goal has always been through Biovac, to ensure that South Africa and Africa become active participants in the global vaccine manufacturing value chain,” the Minister said in a statement on Friday.  

The Minister said that the Department of Science and Innovation chose a vaccine manufacturing strategy that would first build capacity to fill and finish and then move towards actually manufacturing the active pharmaceutical ingredients and therefore to develop from scratch, the country’s very own vaccines. 

He said: “I am pleased that in this journey, it is not the first time that Pfizer has shown confidence in our vision and commitment. We have just concluded another Tech Transfer for Prevnar 13 vaccine with Pfizer.”

“Also, our Pre-clinical Drugs Development Platform at the University of North-West (UNW) has also benefited from [a] donation of knockout mice a few years back. It is therefore safe to say that the relationship with Pfizer goes a long way.”

The Minister is pleased that this will add the much-needed boost to the country’s recently announced hosting of the mRNA tech transfer hub. 

“Having experienced the devastating effects of diseases outbreak to the economy and livelihoods, this partnership does indeed help put our feet firmly in the right direction in terms of supporting our current and future endeavours to respond to pandemics,” he said. –

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