South Africa to build its own COVID-19 vaccine plant

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Vaccine Source: Google Images

A plant headed up by government officials, pharmaceutical companies and private-sector vaccine specialists is planned to be built. This is according to Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande, who spoke during a digital conference on Friday, July 31.

“The aim is to get South Africa into a state of readiness to manufacture an approved COVID-19 vaccine locally,” Nzimande said. “In anticipation of the huge demand, should a candidate vaccine be identified, manufacturing facilities will need to be established in different regions. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African continent region as a whole will need to be ready.”

His department is working on a number of projects currently, including:

– The mass production of hand sanitiser

– The development and production of locally-made ventilators

– The mass productions of facial shields made by 3D-printing

South Africa is one of the participating countries in the experimental COVID-19 vaccine trial overseen by pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The company is planning to administer shots of the vaccine to 5 000 volunteers in Brazil, as part of its late-stage trial. Subjects are being enrolled in South Africa, and a test will soon begin in the US.

“We intend to make a profit, but a reasonable profit, in the richer countries. Our pricing will be appropriate, it will be reasonable, because we really want people to be able to get vaccinated,” said AstraZeneca Chief Executive Officer Pascal Scariot during an interview with Bloomberg.

The manufacturer plans on selling the vaccine at its cost price during the pandemic, and will set a low price for lower- and middle-income countries when the pandemic is under control. Those in wealthier countries will pay more for the vaccine.